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A History of Popular Recreation 









may be compared to a river its course adapting itself to 
the nature of the country through which it flows, the main 
stream continually augmented by tributaries, and the river-bed 
itself ever growing both broader and deeper. In the early period 
of settlement it was little more than a thin trickle, forcing its 
way through a forbidding terrain, but with the eighteenth century 
it slowly gathered volume and flowed on quietly and steadily. 
The first half of the nineteenth century saw its course deflected 
into more narrow channels, and for a time the flow appeared to 
be almost checked, but after the Civil War scores of new tribu- 
taries swelled it to far greater size. The twentieth century trans- 
formed it into a riotous torrent, breaking through all barriers as 
it carved out fresh channels. Sometimes it appeared to sweep 
almost everything else aside, spreading in full flood over a vast 

This book is an attempt to trace the main course of this stream. 
Recreation is considered in its popular sense the leisure-time 
activities that the American people have pursued over three 
centuries for their own pleasure. At all periods of history men 
and women have probably spent the greater part of their leisure 
in informal talk, in visiting and entertaining their friends, in 
casual walks and strolls, and sometimes in reading for their own 
amusement. But these more simple activities are hidden in the 
obscurity that shrouds private lives. Organised, public recrea- 
tion has consciously been adopted as the basis for this record. 

It has been found stupendously difficult to delimit its bound- 
aries. There have always been leisure-time pursuits in which 
cultural and recreational motives are inextricably mixed, and in 



more recent years increasing emphasis has been placed on crea- 
tive activities. In the main, the cultural and the creative have 
been ignored in this account of the people at play. Music and 
the dance are treated as entertainment, not art. Where religion, 
or rather the church, has impinged on the recreational scene, 
there is again no attempt to go beyond the surface implications 
of the popular enjoyment of the Sunday meeting or midweek 
Great and Thursday of colonial days, the frontier revival, the 
small-town church social of the 1890's, or the activities clustering 
about the institutionalized church of metropolis. 

Even with these limitations recreation includes a wide cate- 
gory of amusements ranging from horseshoe-pitching to sym- 
phony concerts, from the circus to fox-hunting, from prize-fights 
to contract bridge, from lodge night to international polo. 
Throughout the book the emphasis has invariably been placed 
on those diversions or sports which have reached the greatest 
number of people. A century ago a shrewd foreign observer 
declared that democracy was too new a comer upon the earth 
to have been able as yet to organize its pleasures. America would 
be compelled in this field of activity, as in politics, to create 
everything fresh. How this challenge has been met is the basic 
question that has determined my lines of inquiry. Yachting has 
been largely ignored in favor of bicycling and motoring, the 
opera neglected to stress the importance of minstrel shows and 
vaudeville, and though the popular theatre of the mid-nineteenth 
century is described, the rise of the movies has forced the legiti- 
mate stage of the twentieth century into the background. 

In view of the greatly increased leisure for the masses of 
people in the present day and the very real concern as to how 
it is being used, it is hoped that an account of changing trends 
in recreation during the past three centuries may prove of imme- 
diate interest. Two important factors, I think, stand out from the 
record. The first is the continuing influence of an inherent puri- 
tanism, both rising from and enforcing a dogma of work born 
of economic circumstance, which may be traced from the seven- 


teenth century to tihe twentieth. Until recent times it has frowned 
severely upon what the early settlers called any "mispense of 
time.'* If to-day this attitude has somewhat changed, the Amer- 
ican tradition still insists that amusements should at least make 
some pretense of serving socially useful ends. The businessman 
plays golf to keep fit for business; the woman's club emphasizes 
its educational program; and reformers would have all popular 
entertainment directed toward the establishment of higher 
cultural standards. 

The second factor is the paramount influence on recreation of 
the gradual transformation of our economy from the simplicity 
of the agricultural era to the complexity of the machine age. No 
field of human activity has been more deeply affected by this 
change and the concomitant growth of cities. The machine has 
greatly increased the leisure of the laboring masses, and it has 
at the same time made life less leisurely. The traditional pat- 
terns of everyday living have been completely altered with an 
ever-growing need for play that can effectively compensate for 
the intensity under which we must work. If many of the forms 
of recreation that have evolved under these circumstances appear 
far from ideal, the question is nevertheless posed as to what the 
urban masses, granted the conditions of modern life, would be 
doing if they did not have their commercial amusements and 
spectator sports. 

Entirely apart from the possible bearing on present-day recrea- 
tion of the developments of the past, an account of three cen- 
turies of play also seems to throw as revealing a light upon how 
the American people have created the modern society in which 
we live as many records of more serious activities. Lord Lytton 
has somewhere stated that the civilization of a people is infallibly 
indicated by the intellectual character of its amusements. It is 
more and more widely recognized to-day that what a nation 
does with its leisure is oftentimes just as significant as how it 
either maintains itself economically or governs itself. This book 
is presented with the idea that on these grounds alone there is 


justification for surveying a phase of human activity which the 
historian often ignores. 

The field is so broad that, with the best will in the world, it has 
proved impossible to treat many topics comprehensively. I have 
not tried to give a complete record of any single sport or amuse- 
ment. The origins of diversions are generally traced in some 
detail, but once popularly accepted (the tributary joining the 
main stream), further developments have been noted only as 
incidental to the general expansion of recreation. Moreover, to 
write authoritatively of New England husking-bees and the con- 
certs and balls of colonial Charleston; of sailing regattas in the 
1830's and the trotting races of county fairs in mid-century; of 
archery and the roller-skating craze; of surprise parties and the 
popular melodrama of the 1890's; of automobile motoring, the 
movies, and radio; of Softball and siding; of jazz, crossword 
puzzles, and major-league baseball, would demand a familiarity 
with the social scene through three hundred years of American 
history which I would be the first to disclaim. 

It has taken considerable courage even to attempt to plot a 
course. The mass of available evidence made a sampling process 
the only possible procedure. Where other writers have traced 
the history of some one form of amusement (for there is no com- 
parable earlier book covering the whole subject), I have most 
gratefully availed myself of the fruits of their labor. The chapter 
notes and bibliography at the end of the volume will give some 
measure of my indebtedness. But so far as time and space have 
allowed, I have used the contemporary evidence of how the 
American people have amused themselves in their leisure time 
the records contained in diaries, autobiographies, travel accounts, 
magazines, newspapers, playbills and posters, sports manuals 
and advertisements. I have selected whatever appeared signifi- 
cant, interesting, and sometimes amusing in order to present the 
kaleidoscopic scene as much as possible through the eyes of those 
who actually observed it. There can be no scientific exactitude 
about such a record. It is necessarily colored throughout, though 


I have tried to restrain myself, by personal interests and enthu- 
siasmsand also by personal blind-spots. 

To acknowledge the aid and assistance I have received from 
various sources is but a poor return for these favors. The book 
would probably have never been written except for a fellowship 
awarded by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. 
I should also like to express my appreciation of the cooperation 
of Francis G. Wickware in assembling the illustrations, and of 
Janet Aaron in compiling the index. The manuscript has been 
patiently read and criticized by several co-workers or friends, 
among whom I am particularly indebted to John A. Krout; while 
the aid, encouragement, and practical assistance of Edith Dulles 
Snare and Marion Dulles are greatly responsible for whatever 
virtues the book may claim. 






























NOTES 391 

INDEX 425 


The End of the Fox Hunt -frontispiece 


Title-Page of King James Ts "Book of Sports'* .... on 11 

Bear-Baiting 24 

Skittles 24 

"The Hill Tops," a New Hunting Song 25 

How to Mount a Horse on 32 

The Square Dance on 38 

Exotic Animals on Show in New England on 41 

Playbill of the Hallam Company of Comedians .... on 55 

Shooting for the Beef 72 

Joys of the Camp-Meeting 73 

"Light May the Boat Row" 86 

Dr. Rich's Institute for Physical Education 87 

A Picnic on the Wissahickon 87 

Female Calisthenics in the Pantalette Era on 94 

A Family Party Playing at Fox and Geese 96 

The Dance after the Husking 96 

Skating in Central Park, New York ......... 97 

A Society Audience at the Park Theatre, New York .... 106 

Scenes from "Uncle Tom's Cabin" 107 

Fanny Elssler in La Tarentule 116 

Wonders of Barnum's Museum 117 

' First Appearance of Jenny Lind in America 126 

Jim Crow 126 

Christy's Minstrels 127 

Barnum Enters the Circus Field 132 

Circus Day in Chicago 133 

Peytona and Fashion's Great Match 140 

Lady Suffolk and O'Blennis 141 

Boat-Race on the Charles River, Boston 144 




A Great Foot-Race at Hoboken 144 

The Great Fight for the Championship 145 

A Yachting Club on Lake Erie 150 

The Bathe at Newport 151 

Sleighing in New York 156 

A Home on the Mississippi 157 

The Turkey Shoot 157 

The Fashionable Singing Class 164 

The Dance 164 

Enter the Trick Horseman 165 

The Hurdy-Gurdy House at Virginia City, Montana .... 174 

Cow-Town Vaudeville 174 

Bucking the Tiger 175 

Cowboys in Town for Christmas 175 

A Great Game for the Baseball Championship 186 

The Game of Croquet 187 

A Spring Meeting of the New York Archery Club .... _187_ 

The First National Turn's Tournament at New Brighton . . 196 

Washington Meet of the League of American Wheelmen . . 196 

Yale Meets Princeton in Football 197 

A Six-Day Walk for the Pedestrian Championship ... on 200 

Camping Out 202 

The Great International Caledonian Games 203 

Sunday "Social Freedom" in the Bowery 212 

A Chicago Pool-Room on Sunday 213 

Winter Amateur Athletic Meet at the Boston Athletic Club . . 222 

The Bathing Hour on the Beach at Atlantic City .... 223 

A Double Play to Open the League Season 223 

Trotting Cracks of Philadelphia Returning from the Races . . 232 

Fashionable Turnouts in Central Park 232 

Baltimore Society Dances for Charity 233 

When Wallaces Theatre Was New 238 

Defense of the America's Cup 239 

New York's First Coach 239 

Polo at Jerome Park 244 

The Social Side of Intercollegiate Baseball 245 

Knights Templar in Conclave at Chicago 256 



A Chautauqua Tent 257 

The Lighter Side of Chautauqua 257 

Program of a Typical Chautauqua Week on 259 

Puck's Suggestion to His Religious Friends on 268 

A New England Straw Ride 274 

A Grange Meeting in an Illinois School-House 274 

The Day We Celebrate 275 

The Country Fair 282 

Jumbo 283 

In the Days of the Kinetoscope 292 

The Last Word in Picture Theatres 292 

Incunabula of the Movies 293 

New Toys for the Wealthy - . . 310 

Cars and Costumes of Pre-War Days 310 

Vacationing on Wheels 311 

The First Broadcasting Station 322 

Broadcasting to the Nation 322 

Entertainment for Sunday Evening 323 

Golf on a Vacant Lot 340 

Devotees of Swing 341 

Pioneer Sportswomen 348 

When East Meets West in Football 349 

Factory Softball 360 

College Basketball 360 

Ski Tracks in the Rockies 361 

On the Beach at Coney Island 361 




A America had the same instinctive drive for play that is the 
common heritage o all mankind. It suffered no sea change in the 
long and stormy crossing of the Atlantic. Landing at Jamestown, 
Sir Thomas Dale found the almost starving colonists playing 
happily at bowls in 161L 1 * The first Thanksgiving at Plymouth 
was something more than an occasion for prayer. Edward 
Winslow wrote that among other recreations the Pilgrims exer- 
cised their arms and for three days entertained and feasted the 
Indians. 2 

Against the generally somber picture of early New England 
life may also be set the lively account of those gay and wanton 
festivities at Merry Mount. To the consternation of "the precise 
separatists, that lived at new Plymouth," the scapegrace followers 
of Thomas Morton set up a May-pole, brought out wine and 
strong waters, and invited the Indians to join them: 

Drinke and be merry, merry, merry boyes, 
Let all your delight be in the Hymens joyes, 
Joy to Hymen now the day is come, 
About the merry Maypole take a Roome. 
Make greene garlons, bring bottles out 
And fill sweet Nectar freely about. 
Uncover thy head and fear no harme, 
For hers good liquor to keepe it warme. 3 

* All numerical symbols throughout the text refer to source references to 
be found in the notes at the end of the book. They may be ignored by the 
reader not interested in such material. 



They spent several days, in William Bradford's disapproving 
phrase, "dancing and frisking togither, (like so many fairies or 
furies rather,) and worse practises/' 4 

It was from these beginnings that American recreation grew 
to the varied and full activities we know to-day. They natu- 
rally open any record that would attempt to trace its growth and 
expansion under the changing conditions of American life. But 
it would be placing a greatly exaggerated emphasis on these 
simple sports and festivities to imagine that they were everyday 
occurrences. The first settlers actually had very little time or 
opportunity to play. Harsh circumstance fastened upon them the 
necessity for continual work. In the strange and unfamiliar 
wilderness that was America, "all things stared upon them with 
a weather-beaten face/' The forest crowded against their little 
settlements along tidewater, and they felt continually menaced 
by its lurking dangers. None knew when the eerie war-whoop 
of the Indians might break the oppressive silence. Starvation 
again and again thinned their ranks, and disease was a grim 
specter hovering over each household. Merely to keep alive in 
a land which to their inexperience was cruel and inhospitable 
demanded all their energy. 

The ruling powers, whether north or south, Puritan or Anglican, 
consequently found it at once necessary to adopt the strictest 
regulations "in detestation of idleness," to the end of enforcing 
work and prohibiting all amusements. Sir Thomas Dale sternly 
forbade further bowling at Jamestown and decreed that any 
tradesman unfaithful and negligent in daily attendance upon his 
occupation should be "condemned to the Galley for three years/' 5 
Governor Endicott of the Massachusetts Bay Colony cut down 
the May-pole at Merry Mount, gravely warning the revelers for 
the future "to looke ther should be better walking," and prepared 
rigorously to enforce the General Court's law that "no person, 
householder or oilier, shall spend his time idly or unprofitably, 
under paine of such punishment as the Courte shall thinke meet 
to inflict.* 6 


It was the paramount need of a primitive, pioneer society for 
the whole-hearted cooperation of the entire community that fas- 
tened upon the first Americans a tradition of work which still 
weighs heavily upon their descendants. The common welfare in 
those difficult and perilous days could not permit any "mispense 
of time." Those who would not work of their own volition had 
to be driven to it under the lash of compulsion. Religion provided 
the strongest moral sanction for every law suppressing amuse- 
ments. It was one of the vital forces making for a life in which 
recreation for long played hardly any part But in all the colonies 
there was this basic fact: if the settlers did not direct all their 
energy to their work, they could not hope to survive. 

VIRGINIA originally enacted laws fully as restrictive as those of 
New England. 7 The Assembly in 1619 decreed that any person 
found idle should be bound over to compulsory work; it pro- 
hibited gaming at dice or cards, strictly regulated drinking, pro- 
vided penalties for excess in apparel, and rigidly enforced 
Sabbath observance. 8 There was, for example, to be no admission of 
actors Tbecause we resolve to suffer no Idle persons in Virginia/' 9 
Court records show that offenses against these laws were dealt 
with severely. 10 It was only as conditions of life became some- 
what easier that enforcement grew lax. Once the colony was 
firmly established and the need for incessant work began to 
lessen, Virginians were more generally permitted to make the 
most of whatever opportunities for recreation their expanding life 

In New England, where the stern rule of Calvinism condemned 
idleness and amusements for their own sake, the tradition that 
life should be wholly devoted to work ("that noe idle drone bee 
permitted to live amongst us" 11 ) held its ground more firmly. 
The magistrates attempted to suppress almost every form of 
recreation long after the practical justification for such an unre- 
lenting attitude had disappeared. The intolerance of Puritanism 


was superimposed upon economic necessity to confine life in 
New England within the narrowest possible grooves. Massa- 
chusetts and Connecticut banned dice, cards, quoits, bowls, 
ninepins, "or any other unlawful game in house, yard, garden 
or backside," singling out for special attention "the Game called 
Shuffle Board, in howses of Common Interteinment, whereby 
much precious time is spent unfruitfully." 12 They listed "com- 
mon Coasters, unprofitable fowlers, and Tobacko takers" as idlers 
subject to immediate punishment. No smoker in Connecticut 
could "take any tobacco publiquely in the street, nor shall any 
take yt in the fyelds or woods." His indulgence in a habit gen- 
erally condemned as time-wasting was limited to the "ordinary 
tyme of repast commonly called dynner." 1S 

Throughout New England, local ordinances further ordered 
the constables to "search after all manner of gameing, singing 
and dancing" and to report "disordered meetings" even when 
they were held in private homes. 14 John Cotton had condoned 
dancing under certain circumstances, reserving his disapproval 
with possible justification for 'lascivious dancing to wanton dit- 
ties, and in amorous gestures and wanton dalliances," but his 
successors admitted no such subtle distinctions. The Devil was 
responsible for all dancing, and especially "Gynecandrical Danc- 
ing or that which is commonly called Mixt or Promiscuous 
Dancing of Men and Women." 15 When the Massachusetts Gen- 
eral Court learned that the custom of dancing at weddings was 
growing up, it flatly decreed that there should be no more of it, 
then or at any other time. 16 

The theatre was of course absolutely prohibited. Connecticut 
was prepared to adjudge as common rogues and serve fifteen 
stripes on the bare back to any one who should attempt to "set 
up and practice common plays, interludes, or other crafty 
science." Boston on one occasion refused permission for an ex- 
hibition of tight-rope walking 'lest the said divertisement may 
tend to promote idleness in the town and great mispense of 
time." 17 


These laws represented a determination to promote industry 
and frugality; they also reflected the Puritan concept of the 
evil inherent in any frivolous waste of time. In one instance 
there was a curious conflict between these two motives. Toward 
the close of the period of the Great Migration, the popularity 
of the midweek church meeting, known as the Great and Thurs- 
day, began keeping many of the country people from their 
work. "There were so many lectures now in the country," John 
Winthrop wrote in 1639, "and many poor persons would usually 
resort to two or three in the week, to the great neglect of their 
affairs, and the damage of the public." is Here was one of the 
few breaks in the harsh routine of daily life that the early settlers 
experienced, a social function when there were no others. And 
while the lecture itself might be wearisome and dreary, at least 
for those to whom Calvinistic theology was not always com- 
pletely absorbing, it offered a chance for neighborly gossip after 
the service and for the pleasure of seeing offenders against the 
Puritan code properly punishedplaced in the stocks or whipped 
at the cart's tail. Consequently the colony's theocratic rulers 
found themselves in a difficult quandary. Attendance at these 
meetings could not be prohibited: it hardly fell under the head 
of idle or frivolous amusement. None the less it represented, 
from a utilitarian viewpoint, a serious "mispense" of time. 

It was first ruled, to prevent waste of a whole day, that lec- 
tures should not begin before one o'clock. Then the ministers 
were urged to hold fewer midweek meetings. And finally the 
order went out that the church assemblies should ordinarily 
break up in time to enable people who lived a mile or two off 
to get home before dusk. Nothing could be permitted that in 
any way would impair the spirit expressed in William Wood's 
dictum that aside from everything else "all New England must 
be workers in some kind." 19 

No such reason could be advanced to justify the vehement 
efforts of magistrates and elders to compel that strict observance 
of the Sabbath which they had made one of the cardinal articles 


of their stern faith. Religion stood its ground without economic 
support. The Lord's Day was to be wholly devoted to pious 
reflection upon the bounties of an all-wise Providence. Puritan- 
ism did not admit the idea that this one day free of work might 
possibly be enjoyed for itself. 

Virginia had forbidden Sunday amusements in the early years 
of settlement The laws of that colony, as applied by Governor 
Argall in 1618, made the penalty for failure to attend church 
service imprisonment in the guard-house ('lying neck and heels 
on the Corps of Card ye night following and be a slave ye week 
following") and strictly banned any Sabbath-day dancing, fiddling, 
card-playing, hunting, or fishing. 20 But while these laws soon fell 
into abeyance, New England's holy zeal in trying to turn the day 
into one of vacuous melancholy was not abated. 

The strict prohibition of any Sunday labor, travel, or recrea- 
tion was supplemented by specific bans on "all unnecessary and 
unseasonable walking in the streets and fields." ^ Application of 
this law was graciously limited to children over seven, but the 
Massachusetts General Court gave warning that this by no means 
implied that "we approve of younger children in evil." 22 In 
Connecticut the town of New London found occasion to hale 
John Lewis and Sarah Chapman into court "for sitting together 
on the Lord's Day, under an apple tree in Goodman Chapman's 
Orchard." 2S And there is the well authenticated case, cited by 
Charles Francis Adams, of the New England minister who re- 
fused to baptize children bom on the Sabbath in the belief that 
they had been conceived on the Lord's Day, only to be con- 
founded when his wife gave birth to Sabbath-day twins. 2 * 

WHY HAD Puritanism developed such an intense disapproval of 
sports and games, popular amusements? Where had its stern 
insistence upon the sanctity of the Sabbath come from? In part 
these ideas stemmed from the religious dissenters of fourteenth- 
century England, The revolt of Wycliffe and the Lollards against 


the worldliness of the Anglican Catholic Church had been di- 
rected against all those diversions which the Church of that day 
freely countenanced. They symbolized in the eyes of these re- 
formers the triumph of evil impulses over truly spiritual values; 
they could have no place in consecrated lives. But there was also 
a social bias, a class-conscious protest, in this condemnation of 
pleasure. The Lollards came from the lower classes poor, hard- 
working, struggling to improve their position. They resented the 
pleasures of the rich the landed nobility, the dissolute court 
circle, and the wealthier classes in the towns. It was an easy 
rationalization of this natural feeling to condemn as sinful the 
amusements they could not themselves enjoy. 25 

Some two centuries later the Puritans found themselves in 
very much the same position. They too were a party of reform, 
condemning the worldliness of the Church and damning as sinful 
many of the pleasures that the Church countenanced. They too 
resented the amusements of the more wealthy, leisured classes, 
making a moral issue of their discontent. These two influences, 
spiritual reform and economic envy, can never be disentangled. 
They were both present in the sixteenth and seventeenth cen- 
turies, and they have been present in every later-day manifes- 
tation of the Puritan spirit. The popular conception of this 
attitude is expressed in Macaulay's often quoted phrase that 
the Puritans forbade bear-baiting, not because of the pain it 
caused the bear, but because of the pleasure it afforded the 
spectators. But it was rooted in the belief of a people who could 
not afford to waste time (they were dominated by their middle- 
class ideals of money-making, getting ahead) that any frivolous 
use of it was inherently sinful. 

There was nothing in the original Calvinistic creed to justify 
the stern attitude that the Puritans assumed. John Knox once 
came upon Calvin himself playing at bowls, on a Sunday. So 
sincere a Puritan as Milton expressed again and again the most 
lively appreciation of all the joyous aspects of life in Merry 
England the sports and games, the holidays 


When the merry bells ring round, 
And the jocund rebecks sound, 
To many a youth and many a maid, 
Dancing in the chequered shade. 

But as the Puritans struggled to bring about the reforms they 
thought essential, they grew more and more scornful of the way 
of life of those who opposed them. Their disapproval of the 
moral laxity of the leisured classes of society soon covered all 
their diversions. Their foes jeered at them. On the anvil of 
persecution, disapproval was hammered into fanatical intol- 

One of the most bitter sources of conflict between the Puritans 
and James I revolved around sports and Sabbath observance. 
Compulsory church attendance was a general rule in the early 
seventeenth century not a Puritan invention; but after service 
the day was often given over to recreation rough-and-tumble 
sports, morris-dances, interludes. Obsessed by an Old Testament 
interpretation of the meaning of the Sabbath, the Puritans took it 
upon themselves to condemn utterly this carefree enjoyment on 
the Lord's Day. There should be no sports or games, no dancing 
or interludes, no amusements whatsoever. They ascribed to God 
rules for keeping His day holy which were entirely born of their 
own intolerance. 26 

King James took up this challenge. In 1618 he issued a pro- 
nouncement, since known as the Book of Sports, declaring it to 
be the royal pleasure "that after the end of Divine Service, our 
good people be not disturbed, letted, or discouraged from any 
lawfull Recreation; Such as dauncing, either men or women, 
Archeries for men, leaping, vaulting, or other harmless Recrea- 
tion, nor from having of May-games, Whitson Ales, and Morris- 
dances, and the setting up of Maypoles and other sports 

therewith used But withall We doe accompt still as prohibited 

all unlawful! games to be used upon Sundayes onely, as Beare 
and Bull-baiting, Interludes, and at all times in the meaner sort 
of people by Law prohibited, Bowling." 27 



^Declaration to His 

co ^cj:s 

lawful! Sports to 



Printed by BON HAM NORTON, 

and IOHN B i LL.Depime Printers 
fbrthe Kings mod Excellenc 


Title-Page of King James Z's "Book of Sports" 
London, 1618. Courtesy of the New York Public Library. 


These were among the pastimes that Englishmen, and among 
them many of the prospective settlers of Jamestown and 
Plymouth, Maryland and Massachusetts Bay, were accustomed 
to enjoy. King James would have encouraged them by annulling 
Sabbath bans, "For when shall the common people," he asked, 
"have leave to exercise if not upon the Sundayes and Holidays, 
seeing they must apply their labour, and winne their living in 
all working days?'* Nevertheless, when their day of power came 
in England, the Puritans had the Book of Sports publicly burned 
by the common hangman. 28 

In America, as we have seen, the Puritans took an equally 
intolerant stand. They had sought out the New World to escape 
persecution, abandoning the program of reform at home to 
found a Utopia across the seas. They were determined that here 
there should be no trace of worldliness. "God hath sifted a 
nation," William Stoughton declared, "that he might send choice 
grain into this wilderness." 29 Among these chosen people the 
pagan festivities, the licentious plays and spectacles, the viola- 
tions of the Sabbath, the generally dissolute ways which were 
bringing ruin on England, would not be tolerated. There could 
be no evil in Zion. From the moment of their first landing on the 
shores of New England, the leaders of this seventeenth-century 
exodus set themselves implacably against the slightest infringe- 
ment of their austere code. 

So long as these ideals were allied with the practical necessi- 
ties of life, so long as the condemnation of idle sports and games 
conformed to that paramount need for day-long labor on which 
the very survival of the early settlements depended, Puritanism 
served the colonies well. The strict rule of magistrates and min- 
isters, for which they generously acknowledged the inspiration of 
God, emphasized the importance of work during a period when 
any turning aside toward an easier life might well have doomed 
New England. This debt to Puritanism is a primary fact in 
American history. But the rulers of Massachusetts Bay and Con- 
necticut, unlike those of the other colonies, became more and 


more strict in their insistence upon these rigid rules of conduct 
as their economic justification gradually lessened. 

Suppression became a fetish of the Calvinist mind in the New 
World. Having convinced themselves that all idle pursuits were 
a Satanic trap to lure the godly from the path of duty, strict 
followers of the New England way could no more tolerate 
frivolity than heresy. Their conscience would not let them enjoy 
worldly pleasures themselves; it would not let them permit 
others such enjoyment. The compulsion was equal in either 
instance. On Christmas Day of 1621, when the greater number 
of Plymouth colonists had gone about their usual tasks, Governor 
Bradford was shocked to discover a group of newcomers to that 
godly community "in the streete at play, openly; some pitching 
the barr and some at stoole-ball, and such-like ' sports." He 
promptly took away their "implements," telling them that while 
it might be against their conscience to work on Christmas, it was 
against his conscience that they should play. 30 New England's 
magistrates took it upon themselves to control with conspicuous 
zeal every activity of the people given over to their moral and 
spiritual guidance. When an opportunity to interfere in any way 
with other people's lives presented itself, they joyfully answered 
the still, small voice of duty. 

THE ATTITUDE of one member of this ruling hierarchy is graphi- 
cally portrayed in the intimately self -revealing diary kept by 
Samuel Sewall in the last decade of the seventeenth century and 
opening years of the eighteenth. 81 Magistrate and elder, Judge 
Sewall was continually busy with moral problems, counseling 
others on what they should do and sorrowing over their de- 
parture from the narrow path of righteousness. *1 was grieved," 
we find him writing a friend on one occasion, **. . . when I heard 
and saw you had drunk to excess; so that your head and hand 
were rendered less useful than at other times. ... I mention this 
that you may believe I write not of prejudice, but kindness; and 


out of a sense of duty as indeed I do." Another time, when a 
party of revelers were drinking the Queen's health with too 
much enthusiasm, he went out in the middle of the night to 
remonstrate with them. They refused to go home. He took down 
their names in his little book or rather, as he tells us, "not 
knowing how to spell their names, they themselves of their own 
accord writ them," 82 

Sewall thoroughly approved when Cotton Mather "struck at 
the Root, speaking against mixt Dances/' He maintained an 
obdurate stand against the scandalous suggestion of allowing 
play-acting in Boston and vigorously combated the idea of any 
holiday festivities: "I took occasion to dehort mine from Christ- 
mas-keeping and charged them to forebear." When a dancing- 
master named Francis Stepney attempted to hold classes, he took 
a leading part in seeing that they were immediately prohibited. 
With testy ill-humor he noted "the great disorder in the town" 
when the English introduced the old sport of cock-skailing, or 
throwing sticks at a cock. "Jos, Mayhem carries a cock at his 
back, with a Bell in's hand, in the Main Street," he wrote scorn- 
fully; "several follow him blindfold, and under pretence of 
striking him or's cock, with great cart whips strike passengers, 
and make great disturbance." 8S 

Nevertheless he had his own simple pleasures. He thoroughly 
enjoyed good food and wine: his diary bears frequent witness 
to his fondness for "rost Beef and minc'd Pyes, good Cheese and 
Tarts," and he had a special liking for black-cherry brandy with 
a lump of sugar in it. His appreciation of nature was surprising. 
We find him noting happily that "the Singing of Birds is come," 
and of seeing "Six Swallows flying together and chipering very 
rapturously." Another time he speaks of walking in a friend's 
orchard and getting quiet enjoyment out of "pushing Catter- 
pillars off the Appletrees." It is also suddenly revealing to find 
in the memorable account of his courtship of Madame Winthrop 
the passage where he tells his lady that he came to see her only 
every other night for fear he would drink too deep draughts of 


pleasure "She had talk'd Canary, her kisses were to me better 
than the best Canary." 3 * 

Other diversions more generally centered about the good 
judge's religious life. He often went to service, gladly riding 
several miles to the Great and Thursday at some outlying town, 
taking his wife, or perhaps his mother-in-law, on the pillion 
behind him. He led what went for singing at his own meeting- 
house. There were only a few mournful repetitive tunes in the 
Puritan repertory, to which were sung such strange distortions 
of the Psalms as 

Within their mouths doe thou their teeth 

break out O God most strong, 
Doe thou Jehovah, the great teeth 

break, of the lions young. 

^1 set York tune and the congregation went out of it into St. 
David's in the very 2nd. going over," Sewall wrote in his diary 
one day. "This seems to me an intimation and a call for me to 
resign the precentor's place to a better voice. I have through 
the Divine long suffering and favor done it for 24 years." 85 

This upright man found real enjoyment in seeing punishments 
properly administered, whether it was a whipping or a hanging, 
and he had that morbid preoccupation with death which was 
one of the most unpleasing of Puritan characteristics. He took a 
melancholy pleasure in serving as a pall-bearer at funerals, mak- 
ing a great collection of the gloves and rings with which custom 
decreed the pall-bearer should be rewarded. He was always 
happy to undertake this congenial task unless he disapproved 
of the deceased's morals. But the obsession with death found 
most startling expression in his account of how he spent one 
Christmas. One of his daughters had recently died. Sewall passed 
the day in the family tomb: "I was entertained with a view of, 

and converse with the coffins 'Twas an awful yet pleasing 

Treat." * 6 


IN THESE varied pleasures spying upon one's neighbors, uphold- 
ing public morals, going to church meetings, morbidly contem- 
plating deaththe Puritan leaders might find some compensation 
for the amusements of which they deprived themselves. But they 
could not possibly satisfy the needs of the humbler members 
of the community whose instinct for play could not so easily be 
eradicated. Even when these men and women in the ordinary 
walks of Me were wholly in sympathy with the rule of the 
church, it was not enough for them to attend service and go to 
funerals. And increasingly large numbers of New Englanders 
were not Puritans. During the Great Migration even, between 
1630 and 1640, only some four thousand out of sixteen thousand 
arrivals in Massachusetts Bay were church members. The rigid 
requirements for membership made it entirely possible for a 
majority even of the non-members to be in sympathy with the 
church, but nevertheless there was a dissident element in the 
colony from the very first. And it steadily grew as more and 
more people poured into New England whose motives for 
seeking the New World had nothing to do with religion. 

In their zeal to maintain godliness, to enforce general con- 
formity with their own principles of conduct, the magistrates 
failed signally to take this group into consideration. Whatever 
may be said for the first generation of Puritan leaders, their 
successors' inability to recognize the need of the people as a 
whole for a freer outlet to the normal urge for recreation was 
continually adding fuel to the discontent of the non-Puritans. 
They began to consider the restraints imposed upon them an 
intolerable burden. Worn out by the endless work on their litde 
farms, discouraged by poor harvests, fearful of famine, plague, 
or Indian attack, they had to have some release for pent-up 
emotions, some way to forget the world. 

Many of them and this was true not only in New England 
but in all the colonies found it in drinking. The tavern sprang 
up as naturally as the meeting-house, and the conviviality of the 
tap-room met a genuine need. They came of good drinking stock, 


these New World pioneers, and the early lack of malt and 
spirituous liquors had been for a time a great cause for com- 
plaint. It is revealing to find how proud one godly minister was 
because he had learned to drink water, and to note another 
worthy writing home that while he did not yet prefer water to 
good beer as some professed to do, "any man would choose it 
before Bad Beere, Wheay, or Buttermilk." 37 Nevertheless the 
Puritans did not allow any pernicious habit of water-drinking to 
take hold. Beer and cider were soon plentiful; rum became a 
New England staple. The taverns and ordinaries everywhere 
offered an engaging selection of drinks to gratify every taste, 88 

Drunkenness was a frequent consequence of their growing 
popularity. The early records show many cases of fines, confine- 
ment in the stocks, and public whippings for an overindulgence 
which the lower classes (the indentured servants, the appren- 
tices, the laborers ) could hardly avoid with rum at two shillings 
a gallon. Sometimes the penalty of public scorn was adminis- 
tered. "Robert Cole, having been oft punished for drunkenness," 
John Winthrop reports in his history of Plymouth (an anything 
but isolated case even for that sober community), "was now 
ordered to wear a red D about his neck for a year." Sd 

The increase in drinking and its attendant evils was largely 
due to the lack of other entertainment and to the promotion by 
tavern-keepers of what was a very profitable business. By the mid- 
dle of the seventeenth century the General Court was compelled 
to recognize that it had created a serious social problem. "How has 
Wyne and Cider, but most of all Rum debauched Multitudes of 
People," exclaimed the redoubtable Increase Mather. Viewing 
the fearful circumstances into which Connecticut had -been 
brought, Cotton Mather somewhat later declared somberly that 
"the consequences of the affected Bottel, in that Colony, as well 
as in ours, are beyond Imagination." 40 

Many other instances might be cited to show the extent to 
which tavern drinking took the place of other amusements in 
these days of Puritan repression. One law deplored the growing 


custom whereby on pretext of going to midweek church meet- 
ings, men and women rode from town to town "to drinke and 
revell in ordinarys and tavernes." An irate clergy thundered the 
warning that "the Riots that have too often accompanied our 
Huskings have carried in them fearfull Ingratitude and Provo- 
cation unto the Glorious God/* 41 

It may well be noted, however, that it was not in New Eng- 
land but in what has so often been called Cavalier Virginia that 
an attempt was made in the seventeenth century to enforce 
prohibition. For all his alarms, even Increase Mather accepted 
the need for taverns to sell liquor. "No sober Minister," he de- 
clared, "will speak against the Licensing of them." 42 But an 
Assembly dominated by Nathaniel Bacon passed a law, in 1676, 
taking their licenses from all taverns in Virginia except those 
at Jamestown and at the two main ferries on the York. These 
privileged ordinaries were permitted to sell beer and cider, but 
otherwise a fine of one thousand pounds of tobacco was to be 
imposed on any one who sold "any sorte of drinke or liquor 
whatsoever to be drunke or spent in his or their house or houses, 
upon his or their plantations." 4S 

It was not only in drinking that New England was breaking 
through the bonds of Puritan restraint. The diary of Samuel 
Sewall itself affords graphic evidence of the revolt against re- 
pression. Its accounts of the pageantry of Joseph Mayhew, parad- 
ing through the streets of Boston with cock and bell; of attempts 
to stage plays and hold dancing-classes; of the celebration of 
Christmas festivities, all reveal a departure from the original 
severity of life in New England. 

This is shown also in many of the laws that the magistrates 
found it necessary to pass after the middle of the seventeenth 
century. They are fully as indicative of what certain elements in 
the growing towns of New England were actually doing as of 
what their rulers were determined they should not do. Laws on 
the statute books often have this paradoxical significance. The 
future student of twentieth-century legislation will be quite 


justified in assuming that our prohibition laws reflected the popu- 
larity of drinking quite as much as they represented an authori- 
tarian attempt to impose a dry regime. In the same way, much 
of the legislation of early New England forbidding tavern 
sports, card-playing, and dancing throws a penetrating light on 
how a very considerable number of the people were spending 
such free time as they had. Not the rulers and magistrates, but 
the everyday people of the Puritan world. 

This is illustrated in successive edicts with respect to ob- 
servance of the Sabbath. We learn from the statute books that 
on Saturday and Sunday young people were more and more 
freely taking "liberty to walk and sport themselves in the streets 
and fields . , . and too frequently repair to public houses of 
entertainment and there sit drinking." 44 Finally it even became 
necessary to forbid, on Sunday and in the neighborhood of 
meeting-houses, "all shouting, hollowing, screaming, running, 
riding, singing, dancing, jumping, winding horns or the like/* 45 
Here are glimpses of a Puritan Sabbath oddly at variance with 
copy-book and historical legend. Some of the youths and maidens 
of old New England, for all the insistence of the godly that the 
Sabbath should be a day of peace and quiet, appear to have 
utilized it for a little restrained hell-raising in vociferous protest 
against the laws. 

Indeed, at no time after the very first years of settlement was 
the New England scene actually as devoid of all amusements 
as it is so often said to have been. The Puritans have been de- 
picted as a "crowd of sad-visaged people moving duskily through 
a dull gray atmosphere"; their social life has been termed "bare 
and spiritless beyond the possibility of description." 46 But this 
is to take at their face value the repressive edicts of the magis- 
tracy. It ignores the place in New England's life of the large 
number of its settlers who were non-Puritan in their sympathies 
and who could hardly be compelled by magisterial fiat to accept 
the idea that pleasure was synonomous with sin. 

Those two stern guardians of public morals, Increase and 


Cotton Mather, had no doubts as to what was happening in the 
closing years of the seventeenth century. The iniquities of the 
younger generation were causing the glory of the Lord to depart 
from New England. "How many there are amongst us whose 
Fathers in coming into the Wilderness, designed nothing but 
.Religion," declared Increase. "But they are for another Interest, 
Their Hearts are not but for the World ---- That there is a gen- 
eral defection in New England from Primitive Purity and Piety 
in many respects is so plain that it cannot be denied." Cotton 
labored under no such restraints in characterizing the age. "Some 
of our Rising Generation," he stated, "have been given up to 
the most abominable Impieties of Uncleaness, Drunkeness, and 
a Lewd, Rude Extravagant sort of Behaviour. There are the 
Children of Belial among them, and Prodigies of Wickedness." 47 
The Mathers often found evil in what another age would 
freely condone. Many of their "prodigies of wickedness" would 
to-day go unrecognized under such a description. Their fierce 
onslaughts against the rising generation reflected a bitterness 
at their own departing glory as well as at the departing glory of 
the Lord. At the same time it was inevitable that reaction to 
the stern rule Puritanism attempted to impose should in some 
cases lead to extremes. For in forbidding so many forms of 
normal recreation the elders and magistrates had only served to 
confuse moral values. When they instituted such strict laws as 
to forbid, according to one traveler in Connecticut, "even a 
harmless Kiss or Innocent merriment among Young people," 48 
they were asking for trouble. Human nature could not be flouted 
with impunity, even by professed men of God. 

PUBTTANISM failed to eradicate the early Americans* natural urge 
for play. It brought on the inevitable revolt against attempted 
suppression of human impulses. Nevertheless it left a deep im- 
print on the mind of New England. And for all the growth of 
more liberal ideas as the power of the clergy and magistrates 


declined, some part of the old intolerance lingered on. The 
northern colonies -were always more restricted in their diversions 
than the middle colonies or the South. 

The spirit of Puritanism still has an important influence on our 
recreational life. Conditions have so greatly changed that our 
whole idea of leisure-time activities has been completely trans- 
formed. The suspicion with which church and state three cen- 
turies ago viewed all diversions in their common "detestation of 
idleness" has given way to the active encouragement and pro- 
motion of every form of healthful amusement. But there is cer- 
tainly more than a trace of the old Puritanism, whatever other 
factors in a capitalistic society may enter the picture, in an attitude 
which so often views the increase in present-day opportunities 
for recreation as the "problem of leisure." 


stretched along the eastern fringe of America from Maine 
to South Carolina gradually increased, colonial life took on many 
new aspects. The opening of the eighteenth century marked a 
far departure from the first days of settlement. The South had 
almost completely broken away from earlier restraints; New Eng- 
land's outlook was beginning to broaden. The colonists generally 
sought out and developed opportunities for recreation they had 
not before had time to enjoy. Among the common people, the 
great mass of yeomanry who made up nine-tenths of the popu- 
lation, the English love of games and sports was reasserting itself. 
An eager welcome was accorded all possible amusements. 

It is not always easy to discover just what form this recrea- 
tion took. The short and simple annals of the poor are no more 
revealing on this phase of their life than of other aspects. But 
there is sufficient evidence to show that they found many ways 
to enjoy themselves. And the common experience of colonial 
farmers in hunting and in shooting contests, in simple country 
sports, in the communal activities of training days and barn- 
raisings, played its part in the welding of a nation. These phases 
of colonial recreation more truly reflect the life of eighteenth- 
century America than the social activities of Boston's wealthy 
merchants, the dancing assemblies of New York, or the fox- 
hunts of Virginia. 

Rural life in New England was still hard and laborious. It was 
back-breaking to induce crops to grow in that stony soil. Never- 
theless there were compensations which other fanning com- 



munities in this country have not always enjoyed. The original 
settlers had taken up their land in townships, close to one 
another, with communal pasturage for their stock. And the town 
had its meeting-house, its tavern, and later its town hall. The 
people from the surrounding countryside could easily gather for 
their Sunday church services and midweek lectures; they could 
meet on more festive occasions at the tavern. There was no isola- 
tion in the life of colonial New England comparable to that in 
the Middle West a century and more later when the pioneers of 
the prairie states were so widely scattered on their far-separated 

The middle colonies, despite their large trading towns, were 
also a primarily agricultural community. But in addition to farms 
comparable to those of New England, there were the great 
estates of the Dutch patroons along the Hudson, and in Penn- 
sylvania and western New York many rough frontier settlements. 
Conditions were more varied than in New England, and the 
population with its infiltration of Scotch-Irish and Germans much 
more mixed. Consequently we find amusements and diversions 
greatly restricted in some sections and in others freely enjoyed. 
The influence of Dutch Calvinists and Pennsylvania Quakers was 
offset by the greater liberalism of other groups in the popu- 

In the South highly distinctive economic and social conditions 
prevailed. While the land to a great extent was held in small 
farms during the seventeenth century and the staple crops of 
tobacco or rice were grown by as independent and self -respecting 
a yeomanry as that of the North, the growth of slavery with its 
substitution of Negro labor for white indentured servants 
wrought a gradual transformation during the next century. It 
led to the creation of large plantations which made it more 
and more difficult for the small farmers to maintain their position. 
Slave competition, exhaustion of the soil, and lower prices for 
tobacco drove many of them to the new lands in the west and 
tended to reduce those who remained near tidewater to the 


status of poor whites. Nevertheless the southern yeomanry con- 
tinued to make up the bulk of southern population, sometimes 
themselves owning one or two slaves with whom they worked in 
the tobacco fields. Their r61e in colonial life was still an im- 
portant one. 

Recreation for this class corresponded in many respects to that 
of the comparable class in the North. But the farms were more 
widely separated, without centralizing townships as in New 
England. The small planters often led a more lonely life. On the 
other hand, a warmer climate and more productive soil made 
possible greater leisure, while the institution of slavery, tending 
to deprive work of the nobility with which the Puritans clothed 
it, was a further influence contributing to an easy-going attitude 
in the use of this leisure. 

Now THAT the early Americans were beginning to feel at home 
in field and forest, hunting and fishing could be enjoyed as 
sport. The wealth of game drew out the townsman as well as 
the fanner, the New Englander as well as the Carolinian. Deer 
were plentiful everywhere, and the wild-fowl so numerous that 
account after account describes flocks of wild turkeys or pigeons 
darkening the skies. Moose ranged through the still unbroken 
forests of New England; wolves preyed upon the outlying set- 
tlements of Connecticut; bear and panther were hunted in the 
backwoods of Virginia, and buffalo could be found in the western 
parts of South Carolina. 

"Bears, Deer, Beavers, Otters, Foxes, Racounes (almost as big 
as a Fox, as good meat as a lamb) Hares, wild cats, musk rats, 
Squirrels (flying and other sorts) and Apossumes of the big- 
nesse and likenesse of a Pigge of a month old . , ." reads Ralph 
Hamors list of early Virginia's game. "Eagles, wild Turkeys 
(much larger than our English), Cranes, Herons (white and 
russet), Hawks, wild pigeons (in winter beyond number or 
imagination, myself have seen three or four hours together flocks 

English tavern sports transplanted in America. From The Sporting Magazine, 
London, 1795 and 1801. 

& *x*n> a>u(GMJA'fo /^/ifrfxsrwfrftsm&ffiwAS & fabM. fo. MtHtS* * <*' 

"The Hill Tops'' a New Hunting Song 

The first sporting picture in an American periodical. Royal American 
"MaoarA-nf. 1774 


in the air, so thick that even they have shadowed the sky from 
us), Turkey Buzzards, Partridges, Snipers, Owls, Swans, Geese, 
Brants, Ducks, and Mallards, Divers, Shel Drakes, Cormorants, 
Teale, Widgeon, Curlews, Puits, besides other small birds, as, 
Blackbird, hedge sparrows, oxeies, woodpeckers, and in winter 

about Christmas many flocks of Parakertoths For Fish the 

Rivers are plentifully stored, with Sturgeon, Porpasse, Base, 
Rockfish, Carpe, Shad, Herring, Ele, Catfish, Perch, Flat-fish, 
Trout, Sheepshead, Drummers, Jarfish, Crevises, Crabs, Oysters 
and diverse other kinds." 1 

Farmers of Massachusetts and Connecticut enjoyed squirrel 
hunts, went out often after raccoons and also banded together to 
hunt wolves. In New London ten to forty men met together 
every autumn to beat up the swamps and kill these "pernicious 

There was a great deal of fishing, John Rowe, an enthusiastic 
angler, noted in his diary a day's catch of five dozen large trout 
"extraordinary sport." It had been vouchsafed religious approval 
in Joseph Seccombe's discourse "utter'd in part at Ammauskeeg- 
Falls, in the Fishing-season, 1739." 'If I may eat them [fish] for 
Refreshment," this worthy divine contended, "I may as well 
catch them if this recreate and refresh me. It's as lawful to 
delight the Eye as the Palate." 2 Even Cotton Mather fished. 
Samuel Sewall tells of the time when the stern old Puritan went 
out with line and tackle and fell into the water at Spy Pond, 
"the boat being ticklish." 

Long Island was a veritable fish and game paradise. New 
Yorkers "went out a shooting" regularly at the opening of the 
century, as the journal of the Reverend John Sharp reveals, 3 
and somewhat later we find the sport lending an element of 
considerable hazard to the lives of the island's settlers. In 1734 a 
woman was shot accidentally when taken for a fox. "The fatal 
mistake," reads the old record, "was occasioned by her wearing 
an Orange Brown Wast-Coat. The man is in a very melancholy 
condition." The newspaper account of the incident advised short- 


sighted hunters to go farther west where their mistakes might 
not be so costly. 4 - 

"They have hunting, fishing and fowling, with which they 
entertain themselves in an hundred ways," Robert Beverly wrote 
of Virginians. 5 The farmers joined in moonlight excursions after 
opossum as they have done ever since, but a far more exciting 
sport was hunting the wild horses which ranged through the 
backwoods. In the Carolinas deer were hunted on horseback, the 
planters taking a stand and having their beaters drive the deer 
past them. Sometimes such expeditions were held at night, the 
huntsmen well fortified with brandy and accompanied by Ne- 
groes carrying pans of burning charcoal to serve as flares. In 
1784 they were made a misdemeanor because of the inadvertent 
slaughter of so many cows and horses. 6 

How general hunting was in the South is shown in a statement 
in George Alsop's seventeenth-century account of life in Mary- 
land: "For every Servant has a Gun, Powder and Shot allowed 
him, to sport withall on all Holidays and leasurable times. . . ." 7 

ALTHOUGH they were relatively rare, gatherings at training days 
and elections, at country fairs, corn-huskings, and barn-raisings, 
provided welcome breaks in the monotony of farm life. Folk- 
dancing and folk-music were enjoyed on these occasions, with 
the singing of the popular English ballads which were being 
hawked through the countryside, even of Massachusetts, as early 
as 1680. There were sports shooting at a mark, foot-races, 
wrestling matchesand a great deal of convivial drinking. "Pos- 
sibly this leafe may last a century/' reads an entry for October 
14, 1766, in the diary of Nathaniel Ames, a young man living in 
Dedham, Massachusetts, "and fall into the hands of some in- 
quisitive Person for whose Entertainment I will inform him that 
now there is the custom amongst us of making an Entertainment 
at husking of Indian Corne whereunto all the neighboring Swains 
are invited, and after the Corn is finished they, like the Hottea- 


tots, give three cheers or huzzas, but cannot carry in the husks 
without a Rhum bottle. They feign great exertion, but do nothing 
until the Rhum enlivens them, when all is done in a trice; then, 
after a hearty meal about 10 at night, they go to their pastimes," 8 
There is a somewhat unpuritanic record of certain of these 
pastimes in a poem of another countryman, Jacob Bailey, proba- 
bly written when he was teaching school at Kingston, New 
Hampshire, about 1755: 

The chairs in wild disorder flew quite round the room. 

Some threatened with firebrands, some brandished a broom, 

While others, resolved to increase the uproar, 

Lay tussling the girls in wide heaps on the floor. 9 

.-- ' ^ 

It was the custom at the "frolic scene," as is well known, for 
the young man who might find a red ear of corn to claim a kiss 
from whatever damsel he chose. On one occasion it was in a day 
when strict Puritan supervision was responsible for the story 
being spread on the town records difficulties arose over the 
interpretation of this genial law of the husking-bee. James Chi- 
cester found a red ear and promptly kissed Bette Scudder. But 
the young lady objected and somewhat bluntly told him she 
"would whip his brick." In the ensuing scuffle Goody Scudder 
came to her daughter's defense, and the unfortunate James was 
fined twelve shillings for his temerity. 10 

Quite different is the story of Sarah Tutde, similarly honored 
by one Jacob Murline. "They sat down together," we learn again 
from the court records, "his arm being about her, and her arm 
upon his shoulder or about his neck, and hee kissed her and shee 
kissed him, or they kissed one another, continuing in this posture 
about half an hour." This was too much for the elders, and Jacob 
was hailed before the magistrate on a charge of "inveigling" 
Sarah. But Sarah promptly owned up that there had been no 
inveigling: she had wanted to be kissed. The shocked magistrate 
thereupon denounced her for a "Bould Virgin," and although 
she demurely acknowledged her error, expressing the hope that 


"God would help her to Carry it Better for time to come," a 
heavy fine was imposed. 11 

The flirtations and love-affairs of young people naturally sug- 
gest the curious custom of bundling, widely prevalent in New 
England and Pennsylvania. Its origin was supposedly found 
(although the custom has also been noted among other peoples) 
in the premium placed on heat and light in those early days of 
settlement when the whole family had to roll up together in 
front of the open fire on cold winter evenings. A visitor could 
be offered only such hospitality as the house afforded, and con- 
sequently bundling became among country people a natural 
and accepted form of courtship. Andrew Burnaby, writing as 
late as 1775, describes how the young folk in a home he was 
visiting got into bed together "but without pulling off their 
undergarments, in order to prevent scandal/* On a tour through 
Pennsylvania at the close of the century, John Bernard also noted 
the custom under the name of "tarrying." He reported that in 
extending the hospitality of her bed it was customary for the 
girl to take the thoughtful precaution of "confining her petticoat 
to her ankles." 12 

Bundling was not always as safe as these measures would sug- 
gest. The approving Mr. Burnaby wrote that pregnancy was 
"an accident that seldom happens," but at times all precautions 
failed. In the case of engaged couples, however, public dis- 
approval of premarital relations was tempered, even in the 
strictest circles, by the desirability of large families in a primi- 
tive farming community. Marriage expiated all guilt. In 1722 
there was nothing out of the way in a Harvard student society's 
publicly debating 'Whether it be Fornication to lye with ones 
Sweetheart (after contract) before Marriage?" 13 

Nevertheless bundling of itself certainly did not imply any im- 
proper relationship. It was perhaps the eighteenth-century equiv- 
alent of the buggy drive of the next century, or of the evening 
automobile ride of our present age. Abigail Adams refers casually 
to it in several of her letters. There is a comfortable description 


of bucolic life in Royall Tyler's play The Contrast: "twenty acres 
of rock, the Bible, Tabitha, and a little peaceable bundling." A 
young Connecticut girl gaily records in her 1775 diary how sister 
Ellen bundled "till sun about 3 hours high," adding 

If I won't take my sparks to bed 
A laughing stock I shall be made. 14 

"THEIR DIVERSIONS in this part of the Country," wrote Madame 
Sarah Knight, as that "fearfull female travailer," journeyed 
through Connecticut in 1704, "are on Lecture days and Trailing 
days mostly: on the former there is Riding from town to town. . . . 
And on Training dayes the Youth divert themselves by Shooting 
at the Target, as they call it, (but it very much resembles a 
pillory,) when hee that hitts neerest the white has some yards 
of Red Ribbin presented him, which being tied to his hattband, 
the two ends streaming down his back, he is led away in 
Triumph, with great applause, as the winners of the Olympiack 
Games." 15 

No less a one than Judge Sewall used to attend training days 
in Boston, where upwards of a thousand men would gather on 
the Common to drill, practise markmanship, and then celebrate 
the day in more lively fashion. "Go to prayer. March down and 
shoot at a mark," was his usual laconic description of this great 
event. But he also records that on one occasion he presented 
his company, as a prize for marksmanship, with a pike headed 
and shod with silver, which he supposed would stand him some 
forty shillings. On another he had the entire company to his 
house and treated them with bread, beer, and wine syllabub. A 
third time, after some recent bereavement, he gives a pathetic 
picture of marching sadly off to muster: "I put on my mourning 
rapier, and put a black ribbon in my little cane." 1S 

The celebration of training days, as of election days and court 
days, almost invariably ended in a general descent upon the local 
tavern. There was no other occasion when colonial neighbors so 


much enjoyed passing around a friendly bottle. At the opening 
of the eighteenth century, Cotton Mather was already thunder- 
ing against "Training Days become little other than Drinking 
Dayes," but though his voice reached throughout New England, 
it was more and more ignored. And going south, through the 
middle colonies into Virginia and the Carolinas, it would have 
been hard to say whether there was more or less drinking. There 
is, for instance, the evidence of Ebenezer Cook, from his 
memorable "Sot-Weed Factor,'* which relates the traveler's expe- 
rience on seeking out the tavern on a Maryland court day: 

A Herd of Planters on the ground, 

O'er-whelmed with Punch, dead drunk we found. 17 

Country fairs drew crowds of merrymakers. The social gath- 
erings in New England were more likely to be associated with 
useful communal work house-raisings, sheep-shearings, log- 
rollings, or husking-bees; but Virginia more naturally had meet- 
ings where there was little pretense of utility and a wide variety 
of diversions. Here was in evidence more of the spirit of Merry 
England than Puritans could easily expresshorse-racing, chasing 
a greased pig, dancing on green lawns. 

An advertisement in the Virginia Gazette for October, 1737, 
tells of some of these sports and the prizes offered for them. It 
was proposed that a pair of silver buckles be wrestled for; that a 
pair of handsome shoes be danced for; that a hat of the value of 
twenty shillings be cudgeled for; that a violin be played for by 
twenty fiddlers; that a quire of Ballads be sung for by a number 
of songsters; and "that a pair of handsome Silk Stockings of one 
Pistole value be given to the handsomest young country maid 
that appears in the field." In the case of the songsters it was 
announced that they would be allowed liquor sufficient to clear 
their wind pipes," but the advertisement closed with the admoni- 
tion that "as this mirth is designed to be purely innocent and void 
of offence, all persons resorting there are desired to behave them- 
selves with decency and sobriety." 18 


Still another colonial holiday was the college commencement. 
At Harvard, Yale, and Princeton, graduation exercises drew not 
only "a vast concourse of the politest company" to listen to the 
day's oratory and debates, but also crowds o simple country 
folk who made the occasion one for horse-racing, games, dancing, 
and drinking. "Fe-o, whiraw, whiraw, hi, fal, lal, fal, lal, lal, de 
lal dal, a fine song: commencement is over whiraw I say again 
whiraw whiraw," wrote one exuberant graduate of Nassau Hall 
who would appear to have confused those phases of commence- 
ment intended for the student body with the more general cele- 
bration of the day. 19 

At Harvard too the exercises did not always conform to the 
expected academic traditions. The day's activities were satirically 
recorded early in the eighteenth century: 

Some spend the Time at Pins (that toilsome Play) 
Others at cards (more silent) pass the Day. 
In rings some Wrestle till they're mad outright, 
And then their Antagonists they fight. 

On Horses some to ride full Tilt along 

Are seen; while on each side a Numerous Throng 

Do gaze. . . . 

Others (as brutish) do propagate their Kind: 

Where amorous Lads to shady Groves resort, 

And under Venus with their Misses sport. 20 

The colonial colleges had to change the date of commence- 
ment in order to prevent the occasion from turning into too 
festive a celebration. Nassau Hall shifted it from autumn to 
spring in the hope that their planting and sowing might keep the 
farmers at home. 

THESE F^TE-DAYS were not the only occasion for sports. 'This is 
to give Notice/' reads an announcement in the Boston News- 
Letter of August 22-29, 1715, "that at Cambridge on Wednesday 
the 21st day of September next, will be run for, a Twenty Pound 


Plate, by any Horse, Mare or Gelding not exceeding Fourteen 

and half hands high " 21 There are many records of cockfights 

"fought cocks in the Town House" is one surprising entry in the 
diary of a Salem resident in 1744 and also of New England bull- 
baitings and bear-baitings. 22 But while members of the Puritan 
communities appear to have enjoyed these spectacles, they were 
much more common in the South than in the North. Activities 
in which the people themselves could take part were the more 
general rule in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Sleighing was a 
favorite winter diversion; in the summer men and boys went 
swimming. Many accounts refer to cricket, "bat & Ball,** and 
football. 23 

"The place we went to was a Town calTd Rowley, where most 
of the inhabitants had been Clothiers," John Dunton wrote during 
his New England travels in 1686; "but there was that Day a great 
game of Foot-Ball to be play'd with their bare feet, which I 
thought was very odd; but it was upon a broad Sandy Shoar, 
free from Stones, which made it more easy. Neither were they 
so apt to trip up one anothers heels and quarrel, as I have seen 
*em in England." 2 * A century later William Bentiey also speaks 
of football as being played by the fishermen of Marblehead. 
"The bruising of shins," he adds to his account, "has rendered 
it rather disagreeable to those of better education, who use a 
hand ball, thrown up against an house or fence instead of the 
Foot Ball, which is unfriendly to clothes as well as safety." 25 

In New York the influence of the Dutch settlers made bowling 
the most popular pastime, and on the basis of Sabbath-day 
regulations forbidding certain amusements during the hours of 
service (not for the entire day as in the case of New England), 
there were "Dancing, Card-playing, Tick-tacking [a type of 
backgammon], Playing at ball, at bowls, at ninepins; taking 
jaunts in Boats, Wagons or Carriages." 26 Another regulation, 
passed in the days when New York was still New Amsterdam, 
prohibited picking strawberries on Sunday, and it would seem 
to merit description as a Long Island sport. 


"Such abundance of strawberries is in June/' Daniel Denton 
wrote, "that the fields and woods are dyed red; which the 
country people perceiving, instantly arm themselves with bottles 
of wine, cream and sugar, and instead of a coat of Mail every 
one takes a Female upon his Horse behind him, and so rushing 
violently into the fields, never leave them till they have disrobed 
them of their colors and turned them into the old habit." 27 

Winter brought out many skaters, a sport for which the Dutch 
again were primarily responsible. Ice carnivals, where the trades- 
people set up little booths selling liquor and sweetmeats, were 
held with racing and hockey. The children coasted; in Albany 
regulations had to be passed for the protection of pedestrians. 28 

In the southern colonies the stratified social order based on 
the ownership of large plantations sometimes led to the drawing 
of class lines in sports activities. While the diversions of the 
semiannual fair at Williamsburg in the middle of the eight- 
eenth century were apparently open to all comers, Sir Francis 
Nicholson had in 1691 instituted a more exclusive series of 
athletic games. He offered prizes "to be shott for, wrasttled, played 
at back-swords, & run for by Horse and foott," but expressly 
provided that "all which prizes are to be shott for and played for 
by the better sort of Virginians only, who are Batchelors." 29 

One of the earliest records of horse-racing, which was to be- 
come Virginia's most popular sport, also has this undemocratic 
note. A tailor was fined in 1674 for "haveing made a race for his 
mare to runn with a horse belonging to Mr. Mathew Slader for 
twoe thousand pounds of tobacco and cash, it being contrary to 
law for a Labourer to make a race, being a sport for Gentle- 
men." 8 ? But the interest of every Virginian "almost every or- 
dinary person keeps a horse," wrote a traveler early in the next 
century 81 made it impossible to restrict racing to the gentry. 
Entirely apart from the fashionable meets at Williamsburg or 
Annapolis, with their expensive trophies and heavy betting, it 
became a universal feature of country life. The wealthy planters 
might have their blooded horses and imported stock, but the 


small farmer was ready to make a match with his own riding 
horse anywhere and any time. Quarter-racing (an informal 
quarter-mile match) was a leading village sport, one visitor 
noting on occasion how the course was lined with a "motley 
multitude of negroes, Dutchmen, Yankee pedlers, and back- 
woodsmen." 32 

Cock-fighting was another pastime distinctive of plantation 
life, far more popular than in New England. Its pitched mains 
attracted spectators of all ranks, plantation owner, poor white, 
and Negro slave hovering together over the pit. "The roads as we 
approached the scene," wrote a northern visitor, "were alive with 
carriages, horses, and pedestrians, black and white, hastening 
to the point of attraction. Several houses formed a spacious 
square, in the center of which was arranged a large cock-pit; 
surrounded by many genteel people, promiscuously mingled with 
the vulgar and debased." He was enthusiastic over the beauty of 
the cocks and their amazing gameness, but it was too much for 
him: *1 soon sickened at this barbarous sport, and retired under 
the shade of a widespread willow." 33 

Many of the visitors to the southern colonies, both those from 
the North and those from Europe, were shocked by the r&le 
that horse-racing and cock-fighting appeared to play in the lives 
of the people. They seemed to have time for nothing else. "The 
Common Planters," Hugh Jones wrote in 1724 with some 
asperity, "don't much admire Labour or any other manly exer- 
cise except Horse racing, nor diversion, except Cock-Fighting, 
in which some greatly delight. This easy Way of Living, and the 
Heat of the Summer make some very lazy, who are then said to 
be Climate-struck." 3 * At the close of the century the Marquis 
of Chastellux was even more critical. "The indolence and dissipa- 
tion of the middling and lower classes of white inhabitants of 
Virginia," he declared, "are such as to give pain to every reflect- 
ing mind. Horse racing, cock fighting, and boxing matches are 
standing amusements, for which they neglect all business." 85 


OTHER AMUSEMENTS common to all the colonies were those asso- 
ciated with the taverns. The bans upon unlawful games imposed 
by the Puritans have already been noted as indicating diversions 
which the colonists in New England surreptitiously enjoyed even 
in the seventeenth century. In later years there was a progressive 
relaxation in the enforcement of these rules. Instances may be 
found in which the licenses granted innkeepers still prohibited 
all cards, dice, ninepins, and shuffle-board, but open advertise- 
ments in the colonial newspapers may be set against obsolete 
statutes. The tavern was a social center, primarily for drinking, 
but also for all manner of popular pastimes. 36 

"In most country towns," John Adams wrote of New England 
in 1761, **. . . you will find almost every other house with a sign 

of entertainment before it If you sit the evening, you will 

find the house full of people, drinking drams, flip, toddy, carous- 
ing, swearing." 87 There were not as many towns to support 
taverns in the South, and the isolation of the plantations made 
people of all classes so eager to entertain chance travelers that 
keepers of ordinaries complained that their business was one 
hardly worth following. Nevertheless they could always be found 
at the county-seats and at the frequent ferry crossings. 

An advertisement in the New England Courant for April 30, 
1722, announced that a public house in Charlestown, Massachu- 
setts, had tables for those who Tiad a Mind to Recreate them- 
selves with a Game of Billiards." S8 Alexander Macraby singled 
out what he thought a vile practice in the taverns of New York: 
T[ mean that of playing backgammon (a noise I detest) which 
is going forward in the public coffee-houses from morning till 
night, frequently ten or a dozen tables at a time." 30 Dicing was 
even more popular, fines for playing it having to be imposed 
upon apprentices, journeymen, servants, and sailors. In Virginia 
a traveler speaks of finding planters at cards and ninepins even 
in the early morning hours. 

Shooting matches, a favorite amusement of the colonial farmer 
north and south, were often held at the local tavern. With an 


eye to trade the landlord would put up prizes, generally the 
fowls that were used as marks. He could count on a tidy profit 
from the drinking which was such an essential part of the event. 
"There will be a Bear, and a Number of Turkeys set up as a 
Mark next Thursday Beforenoon," reads an advertisement of 
one such contest, "at the Punch Bowl Tavern in Brookline." 40 

In addition to providing games and also serving as head- 
quarters for cock-fights and animal baitings, the tavern was a 
popular place for country dances. It was not only the colonial 
aristocracy who danced in the eighteenth century. This diversion 
was enjoyed by all classes. Although Puritan prejudice was never 
entirely dissipated, the role of ordination balls in Connecticut 
social life indicates how much the attitude had changed. The 
tavern-keeper's bill for one of these affairs included seventy- 
four bowls of punch, twenty-eight bottles of wine, and eight 
bowls cf brandy, 41 At the close of the century a contemporary 
historian declared that dancing had become "the principal and 
favorite amusement in New England; and of this the young 
people of both sexes are extremely fond." 42 Its hold upon the 
South may be illustrated by the will of Charles Carter. He care- 
fully stipulated, in 1762, that his daughters should be "brought 
up frugally and taught to dance." 43 

Country people did not dance 'la minuet de la cour, with the 
gavet," or "la minuet ordinaire with pas grave," so popular with 
the gentry. Their dances were jigs and reels, gay and boisterous, 
the square dances still known in rural communities. They 
amazed one sophisticated observer in the South. "These dances 
are without method or regularity/' he wrote. "A gentleman and 
lady stand up, and dance about the room, one of them retiring 
and the other pursuing, then perhaps meeting, in an irregular 
fantastical manner. After some time another lady gets up, and 
then the first lady must sit down, she being, as they term it, cut 
out The second lady acts the same part which the first did, till 
somebody cuts her out. The gentlemen perform in the same 
manner." He added ungraciously that "in this they discover 





Q ^ 

^3 ft< 





great want of taste and elegance and seldom appear with the 
grace and ease which those movements are so calculated to 
display." 44 To another traveler the "latitude of shuffle" and alter- 
nate pursuit of lady and gentleman in these country dances 
appeared to test "at every turn the respective strength of their 
sinews." 4S 

The music might be a small orchestra of flute, viol, and 
spinnet, as provided by Benjamin Parker for the dance-hall in his 
tavern at Medford, Massachusetts. It was more generally furnished 
by an ancient fiddler or Negro slave with strumming banjo. 
Farm boys and girls, in leather jerkins and homespun gowns, 
asked only that the tune be lively. Often they danced until 
dawn, and sometimes they appear to have spent all their sub- 
stance on the flips and toddy so obligingly sold by the tavern- 
keeper. There is a plea in one colonial paper respectfully asking 
those who had attended a recent dance "to pay the honest fiddler 
for his trouble and wearing out of his strings, for he gathered 
but 12d. among the whole company." 46 

Occasionally a traveling performer acrobat, tight-rope dancer, 
juggler, the exhibitor of a learned dog or sapient pig appeared 
at the tavern to provide the villagers with amusement of a quite 
different sort. It was a rare event. Such entertainment was seldom 
found except in the larger towns. Nevertheless there were some 
forerunners of the traveling wagon shows which in another 
century were gradually to evolve into the circus. 

A wild animal always proved a popular exhibition in town or 
country. The earliest notice of one appears somewhat mys- 
teriously in Samuel SewalTs diary, in 1714: "May 12. In a piece 
of Gazett, mentioned, a large Dromedary seven foot high, and 
12 foot long, taken from the Turks at the Siege of Vienna, to be 
sold." 47 Was this dromedary actually in America? If so, it must 
have been an appalling apparition as it soberly paraded through 
the twisted lanes of puritan Boston at the opening of the eight- 
eenth century. A few years later a lion was taken on tour 
throughout the northern colonies, royally caged in an ox cart. 


His progress may be traced from Boston to Philadelphia. Some- 
what later he appears again in New London, having in the 
meantime been as far north as Albany. Nor did he neglect Long 
Island. The New Yorfc Gazette in May, 1728, stated in its 
announcement of the Jamaica fair, "It is expected that the Lyon 
will be there to be seen." 4S 

There was a white bear on tour in 1733 "a sight far preferable 
to the Lion in the Judgment of all Persons who have seen them 
both" and also "a very strange & Wonderful Creature called a 
Sea Lion." One advertisement tells of a 'wild animal lately 
brought from the Mississippi, called a Buffalo," and another of 
what must have been a monkey "a creature called a Japanese 
about 2 feet high, his body resembling a human body in all parts 
except the feet and tail." The first elephant to visit America 
was brought from Bengal by Captain David Crowninshield in 
1796. It was immediately taken on tour, the Reverend William 
Bentley looking it over while on exhibition at Salem. He recorded 
in his diary that the elephant could pull out the cork and drink a 
bottle of port. 49 

More ambitious showmen than these wandering animal train- 
ers staged various exhibits from elaborate panoramas to acrobatic 
performances. They reached the village tavern even more rarely 
than the peripatetic bears and lions, but their appeal was to the 
same class in colonial society. Their shows were for the common 
man. Again Samuel SewalTs diary provides one of the earliest 
records of such entertainment. The magistrates had trouble, in 
1687, with a tavern-keeper who set aside one of his rooms "for 
a man to shew tricks in." He was persuaded of the error of his 
ways ('lie saith seeing 'tis offensive, he will remedy it"), and 
the disciplinary meeting broke up with singing the ninetieth 
psalm. 50 

Apparently more successful was the exhibition, possibly the 
first advertised in a colonial newspaper, of a "curious and exact 
Modell of the Czar of Muscovia's Country seat, near Moscow." 
"Tis the most Ingenious and Compleat piece of Workmanship of 

To the C U R I O U S. 

To beTeeaat Myor Leaycirvrorth's Stable, oppofite Mr. Lothrop's, State-Street, 


Male and Female, lately imported from 

^HESE ftupendous Animals aremoft deferring the Attention of the Curious, 
X bring the greateft natural Curiofity ever exhibited to the Public on this 
Continent. They are Nineteen Hands high; hare Necks near Four Feet long; 
have a large high Bunch on their Backs, and another under their Breafts, in the 
Form of aPedeftal, on which they fupport themfelves when lying down$ they 
have Four Joints in their hind Legs, and will travel Twelve or Fourteen Days 
without drinking^ and cany a Burden of Etfteen Hundred Weight $ they are ts* 
k markably harmless and docile, and will He down and rife at Command. 

Price of * Admittance for a Gentleman or Lady, NINE-PENCE each. 

_,., sffttilat tt , __-. 

At tie Seruat ttok Ttm Cands, oftlx Caailt ftu 
tattUt Came]! to kneel down irtirf tbt Cry, *f a . 
Wmttr. Fmirtfto*arta*ltltS*rvmt t *idfiietu&it 
ttat&ttnUn tt At Lmtd /Cau mdkcmttkt 

V Kbdni, <W ukt tWift mm *j & Jptoe. 
tt MeCspwunii, *o tit Coy K*hor. A* ** 
Svtiti!*, *** 1**T* tk*1rm**gt ****** 


fir 0f^t tftkttirntt* Srotr** **i JG*u?0/ r JUftkecA, 
AJttyfr nuy Kctecah, tUr 5jfr, visk Sir &*&*, W 
y ^^ ^^ 

Exotic Animals on Show in New England 

An advertisement in The Connecticut Journal, June 30-July 7, 1790. 

Courtesy of the American Antiquarian Society. 


this Nature that ever was exposed in Europe or America," its 
happy proprietor announced in the American Weekly Mercury 
for August 1-8, 1723, inviting the good people of Philadelphia 
to see it "at Mr. Oliver Galltry Perriwig Maker in the Market 
Street near the Old Prison." 61 

Mr. and Mrs. Dugee delighted many an audience in mid- 
eighteenth century. The gentleman member of this team could 
dance on the stiff rope with iron fetters on his feet; his lady 
could hold six men standing on her ample breast while lying 
stretched out between two chairs. She was known as the Female 
Samson and had performed her unusual feat before H.R.H. 
the Princess Dowager of Wales. 52 Another acrobatic family 
brought their act to a stirring climax with the star performer 
"turning round with swift motion, with seven or eight swords' 
points at her eyes, mouth and breast, for a quarter of an hour 
together, to the admiration of all that behold the performance." 63 
In Boston a Mr. John Childs announced his plans "to fly off of 
Dr. Cutler's Church." A few days later the Gazette stated that 
"as the performances led many People from their Business, he is 
forbid flying any more in the Town." 64 

In the latter part of the century there were also exhibitions of 
"philosophical optical machines," "magick lanthorns," and on one 
occasion "a very large moving Mashene or Land and Water 
Skip." e5 After the French Revolution the democratic followers 
of Mr. Jefferson applauded heartily the affecting spectacle of the 
guillotining of Louis XVI "performed to the life by an invisible 
machine without any perceivable assistance." It reached its 
climax, as advertised for a performance at the Sign of the Black 
Bear in Philadelphia on November 21, 1794, when "the head 
falls in a basket, and the lips, which are first red, turn blue." 66 

HUNTING and fishing, the sports and games associated with farm 
festivals, shooting matches and horse-races, country dances, the 
amusements of the colonial tavern with its convivial social atmos- 


phere and pleasant tippling these were the characteristic forms 
of recreation for the colonial yeomanry during the eighteenth 
century. The sports and games were largely those which their 
forefathers, or they themselves, had once enjoyed in England. 
The scene depicted in a sixteenth-century poem addressed to 
Queen Elizabeth would not have been altogether unfamiliar in 
eighteenth-century America: 

Now, when their dinner once is done, and that they well have fed. 

To play they go; to casting of the stone, to runne, or shoote; 

To tosse the light and windy ball aloft with hand or foote; 

Some others trie their skill in gonnes; some wrastell all the day; 

And some to schooles of fence do goe, to gaze upon the play; 

Another sort there is, that doe not love abroad to roame, 

But, for to passe their time at cardes or tables, still at home. 57 

Yet in many instances colonial amusements had been greatly 
modified by passage overseas, as were all English institutions 
transplanted to the New World. The training days and election 
days, with their democratic atmosphere and general participa- 
tion in sports, were a product of the new environment, and the 
barn-raisings and husking-bees grew out of the special circum- 
stances of colonial life. The universal popularity of hunting, with 
the premium placed upon markmanship as exhibited at shooting 
matches, was even more directly a frontier phenomenon. In 
their outdoor recreation the colonists turned from masques and 
wakes, church-ales and morris-dances, and also from such spec- 
tator sports as the animal baitings of eighteenth-century Eng- 
land, to the more homely diversions of a life largely shaped by 
pioneer conditions. 

For a time the Great Awakening exerted a repressive influence, 
but in general there was increasingly less evidence in the eight- 
eenth century of that puritanic condemnation of all amusements 
which had characterized the early period of settlement. Recrea- 
tion played an important r61e in colonial life, and it was taking 
on distinctively American forms. 


gun, no cards, no flutes, no violins, no dress, no tobacco, no 
laziness, decoy you from your books/' * 

Writing this stern injunction in his diary, a young man starting 
life in Braintree, Massachusetts, in the 1750's, a young man des- 
tined to be the second President of the United States, was guard- 
ing himself against what he considered the growing laxity of the 
age in which he lived. For in his attitude toward amusements, in 
his discipline of himself, John Adams was very much the Puritan. 
The changes that had come over the habits of New England, and 
especially of what had become the New England aristocracy, 
were a cause for his anxious, although probably not prayerful, 

He was highly scornful of the fashionable vogue for frivolous 
and idle diversions. "Let others waste their bloom of life at the 
card or billiard table among rakes and fools." Nor could he tol- 
erate the ball-room: "I never knew a dancer good for anything 
else." He did not go so far as to "conclude peremptorily against 
sending sons or daughters to dancing, or fencing, or music," 
but he declared emphatically that he would rather they should 
be "ignorant of them all than fond of any one of them." 2 

But John Adams was swimming against that strong tide which 
we have already seen beating against the crumbling rock of 
Puritan intolerance. The simple country folk of New England 
were asserting their right to play, the more wealthy and leisured 
class was even less restrained by earlier prejudice. Prosperity 
induced a more liberal attitude, and the barriers which once 



had blocked almost all worldly pleasures were being let down. 
An advertisement in the Boston Gazette in 1767 took "Persons 
of Fashion" severely to task for their unashamed attendance at 
plays, balls, assemblies, and card parties. 3 It was a voice crying 
in the wilderness after Puritan ideals of conduct which no longer 
commanded popular sanction. 

Thirty years after John Adams* troubled reflections, changes 
along still more liberal lines are reflected in the diary of John 
Quincy Adams describing his life at Newburyport. He too suf- 
fered from the New England conscience. "I go but little into 
company," reads one entry which might well have appeared in 
his father's diary, "and yet I am not industrious. Indolence, 
indolence, I fear, will be my ruin." Nevertheless Mr. Adams 
allowed himself many pleasures of which his father would hardly 
have approved. 

"Rather dissipated the whole day," we find him writing on one 
occasion; "could not study with the proper attention, and indeed 
gave the matter up in the afternoon. At about seven o'clock we 
met at the dancing hall, and from that time till between three and 
four in the morning we were continually dancing. I was un- 
acquainted with almost all the company; but I never saw a col- 
lection of ladies where there was comparatively so much beauty. 
Two or three gentlemen got rather over the bay; but upon the 
whole the proceedings were as regular and agreeable as might 
be expected." 4 

He appears to have enjoyed female society, with that con- 
descending air which came so naturally to an Adams. One day 
the entire afternoon was "employed in rigging for the ball," and 
he spent the better part of the evening in the company of "a 
young lady with a beautiful countenance, an elegant person, 
and (I am told) an amiable mind." He called on her the next day 
and learned to play quadrille. But it was also about this time 
that he confided to his diary that "there are very few young 
ladies who talk and yet preserve our admiration." 5 

A popular fashion of that day as of a good many days since 


obliged young women at an evening party to play on the harpsi- 
chord, or the new pianoforte, and to sing to their own accom- 
paniment. This bored John Quincy Adams extremely, especially 
the long preliminaries before the musician would allow herself 
to be persuaded to perform. "We had some very agreeable and 
entertaining conversation," he wrote once, <tf but singing soon came 
on the carpet, and then the usual nonsense succeeded." Parlor 
games for they too have a hoary antiquity were even worse. 
Mr. Adams found himself forced to play "start; what is it like; 
cross questions; I love my love with an A." One evening it was 
pawns: "A number of pledges were given all 'round, and kissing 
was ,the only condition upon which they were redeemed. Ah! 
what kissing! "tis a profanation of one of the most endearing 
expressions of love." 6 

There are also references in the diary to sleigh rides, noisy 
walks, serenades until three in the morning, evenings of whist. 
One day was spent in reading, shooting birds, and flute-playing. 
An amiable young man, Mr. Adams, enjoying what had come to 
be accepted as the normal pleasures of society in a small New 
England town. 

IN NEAR-BY BOSTON, social life was at once gayer and more 
sophisticated even in the middle of the eighteenth century. If 
there were still vestiges of Puritan restraint, they were not very 
much in evidence less so than in the next century. English 
visitors found the atmosphere little different from that of other 
American cities. As early as 1740 one of them was both surprised 
and delighted to discover the Bostonians not quite as sad-visaged 
as he had apparently been led to expect. "Notwithstanding plays 
and such like diversions do not obtain here," he wrote, "they 
don't seem to be dispirited nor moped for want of them, for 
both the ladies and gentlemen dress and appear as gay, in com- 
mon, as courtiers in England on a coronation or birthday. And 
the ladies here visit, drink tea, and indulge every piece of gen- 


tility to the height o the mode and neglect the affairs of their 
families with as good grace as the finest ladies in London." 7 

In this same year an assembly was established. For all of 
Puritanism's disapproval of dancing, teachers had been available 
for the young ladies and gentlemen of Boston from some date 
prior to 1716, an advertisement in the News-Letter of that year 
announcing lessons in "all sorts of fine works, as Feather-work, 
Filigre, and Painting on Glass . . . and Dancing cheaper than ever 
was taught in Boston." 8 An assembly, however, was an innova- 
tion. Our observer noted that the ladies who attended it "are 
looked upon to be none of the nicest in regard to their reputation; 
and it is thought it will soon be repressed, for it is much taken 
notice of and exploded by the religious and sober part of the 
people." 9 He overestimated their influence. Four years later it 
was reported that "assemblies of the gayer sort are frequent here, 
the gentlemen and the ladies meeting almost every week at con- 
certs of music and balls." 10 In mid-century another visitor de- 
clared that they "consisted of 50 Gentlemen and Ladies and those 
the Best Fashion in Town." 

The record of the visit of this latter traveler, Captain Francis 
Goelet, gives an unusually gay picture of a Boston enlivened both 
by the rise of a mercantile class and by the presence of a royal 
governor and his staff. He ferreted out its amusements with com- 
mendable perseverance. "Where very merry" is the constant re- 
frain of the accounts of his lively escapades evenings with the 
ladies at whist and with the gentlemen over wine, excursions to 
country taverns for dinner and dancing, 

"After haveing Dined in a very Elegant manner upon Turtle, 
&," Captain Goelet reported of one party at which some forty 
gentlemen had gathered at a Mr. Sheppards, "Drank about the 
[sic] toasts, and Sang a Number of Songs, and where Exceed- 
ingly Merry until 3 o'clock in the morning, from whence Went 
upon the Rake, going past the Common in Our Way Home. 
Surprised a company of Country Young Men and Women with 
a Violin at a Tavern, Danceing and Makeing Merry, upon our 


Entering the House they Young Women Fled, we took Pos- 
session of the Room, having the Fiddler and the Young Men 
with us with the Keg of Sugared Dram, we where very Very 
Merry, from thence went to Mr. Jacob Wendells where we were 
Obliged to Drink Punch and Wine, and about 5 in the morning 
made our Excit and to Bed." al 

On the eve of the Revolution there were two assemblies in 
Boston, one for those with Tory leanings, another the Liberty 
Assembly. The letters of a young lady loyalist declare that the 
former was reputed to be the best in America. 12 There are fre- 
quent references in the diary of John Rowe, friend of John 
Adams, to brilliant balls and very good dancing. An account in 
the diary of William Pynchon of the festivities in Salem during 
the holiday season of 1783 seems wholly modern: 13 Nothing 
could afford more striking illustration of how times had changed 
since Cotton Mather fumed over "wanton Bacchanallian Christ- 
mases," petulantly rebuking young people who might attend 
"a Frolick, a revelling Feast, and a Ball, which discovers their 

Card-playing, especially whist, had won its way into almost 
complete favor. Custom-house records of imports of cards from 
England fully substantiate references to it in diaries and travel 
accounts. The inhabitants of Boston," the Marquis of Chastellux 
wrote just after the Revolution, "are fond of high play, and it is 
fortunate perhaps that the war happened when it did, to mod- 
erate this passion, which began to be attended with dangerous 
consequences/' 14 The Revolution had far-reaching social effects, 
but it is surprising to find this French observer discovering one 
of them to have been the curtailment of the gambling fever in 
one-time Puritan Boston. 

Attempts to introduce the theatre resulted in one of the few 
victories of those still true to earlier traditions. It was not until 
the very end of the century that the stage was officially tolerated. 
When some English actors tried to put on a play in 1750, there 
was a small riot, and the Massachusetts General Court sternly 


reaffirmed its traditional ban on "public stage-plays, interludes, 
and other theatrical entertainments, which not only occasion 
great and unnecessary expenses, and discourage industry and 
frugality, but likewise tend generally to increase immorality, 
impiety, and a contempt for religion." 15 

Now and then something very closely approaching theatricals 
took place in the guise of public readings or moral lectures, and 
amateur performances were presented quite openly. The diary 
of Nathaniel Ames, both as a Harvard student and a resident of 
Dedham, has frequent references both to attending such plays 
and to acting in them. To his notice of a performance of Tancred 
and Sigismunda, on April 8, 1760, he adds, **We are likely to be 
prosecuted." 16 But, still active in these theatricals twelve years 
later, he reported on April 20, 1772, that "the Farce called The 
Toy Shop was acted , . . before a numerous audience of the most 
respectable Inhabitants of the First Parish in Dedham both 
male and female."' 17 

Concerts took the place of the theatre to a certain extent. Vari- 
ous musical instruments virginals and spinets, violins and bass 
viols, flageolets, flutes, and hautboys were being imported in 
1716 by the organist of King's Chapel in Boston. In another 
fifteen years, to judge from an advertisement in the News-Letter 
by a Mr. Pelham, who was also a dancing-master and tobac- 
conist, public performances were being given with an admission 
fee of five shillings. Soon thereafter the approval of the select- 
men (although they were careful to make it clear they did not 
wish to establish any "president") was obtained for a concert 
in Faneuil Hall. By the 1760*s concerts were a regular feature 
of the social calendar. 18 

The wealthy merchants who had taken the place of the Saints 
in the social hierarchy of New England fully recognized and 
thoroughly enjoyed the pleasures of this world. Their recrea- 
tional life did not include commercial amusements, nor did it 
extend to active sports. In some respects it was typified by those 
impressive dinners which everywhere brought colonial society 


together tedious except for the gaiety inspired by fine old 
Madeira and good New England rum. But its limitations were 
those of the age. Boston in tibe latter half of the eighteenth cen- 
tury may still have had that atmosphere of sobriety and decorum 
which has generally distinguished it, but its citizens knew how 
to amuse themselves. 

THE SOCIAL LIFE of the colonial aristocracy in the middle colonies 
was seen at its gayest in New York. Philadelphia was noted for 
its dancing assembly, its exclusive fishing parties on the Schuyl- 
kfll, and the epicurean banquets given by its prosperous citizens. 
It had its concerts and its theatrealso its horse-races and its 
cock-fights for all the disapproval of the Quakers. But the lively 
little town of some twelve thousand inhabitants at the lower end 
of Manhattan Island was by mid-century a pressing rival of 
Boston and Philadelphia "in its fine buildings, its opulence, and 
extensive commerce," 19 and the superior of either Puritan or 
Quaker capital in amusements and entertainment. Trade with the 
West Indies, supplemented by the important side-line of priva- 
teering against the French, had created a class of pleasure-loving 
citizens of both wealth and leisure whose social life was given a 
further fillip by the presence of tihe officers of the English 

They might best be seen, these leaders of colonial society, as 
they paraded of a late afternoon in the fashionable district about 
Hanover Square, dressed in the latest London mode. The gentle- 
men were resplendent in powdered wigs, varicolored coats, lace 
and ruffles, the young dandies wearing silver-hilted small swords 
and ostentatiously taking snuff from jeweled boxes. New fashions 
in hooped petticoats, vivid creations in bright scarlet or glistening 
green, featured the dress of the women. "One cannot but be 
troubled," wrote a correspondent of the New York Mercury, "to 
see so many well shaped virgins bloated up, and waddling up 
and down like big bodied women." 20 Sedan-chairs were carried 


through the streets by Negro slaves. Occasionally Lieutenant- 
Governor de Lancey drove by in his gilded chariot, drawn by 
four white horses, or Abraham de Peyster in his silver-trimmed 
coach, with liveried outriders in blue coats, yellow capes, and 
yellow small-clothes. 21 There were marked social distinctions in 
New York, as there were throughout the colonies. Luxurious dis- 
play had an important r61e in the world of fashion. 

The carriages of the gentry were usually bound for their 
estates out on the Bowery road or even farther afield in Harlem, 
and excursions by chair or chaise to near-by country taverns had 
a great vogue among the socially elect. Ladies and gentlemen 
were assured of being entertained at these resorts "in the gen- 
teelest manner," with rich foods, imported wines, and music. 
Turtle feasts, the terrapin washed down with well-aged Madeira, 
and fashionable picnics were held on the banks of the East 

"Thirty or forty gentlemen and ladies," a traveler in 1760 
noted, "meet and dine together, drink tea in the afternoon, fish 
and amuse themselves till evening, and then return home in 
Italian chaises ... a gentleman and lady in each chaise. In the 
way there is a bridge, about three miles distant from New York, 
which you always pass over as you return, called the Kissing 
Bridge, where it is part of the etiquette to salute the lady who 
has put herself under your protection." 22 It may be added that 
the visitor, Andrew Burnaby, found the ladies of New York 
handsome and agreeable. 

"Their Diversions in the Winter," Madame Sarah Knight com- 
mented, "is Riding in Sleys about three or four Miles out of 
Town, where they have Houses of entertainment at a place called 
the Bowery; and some go to friends houses who handsomely 
treat them. ... I believe we mett 50 or 60 slays that day they fly 
with great swiftness and some are so furious that theyle turn out 
of the path for none except a Loaden Cart." 23 Describing one 
such party in 1768, Alexander Macraby says that the sleighs were 
preceded by fiddlers on horseback, and the company drove to a 


country inn "where we danced, sung, romped and eat and drank 
and kicked away care from morning till night." 24 

Toward the close of the century Long Island was drawing an 
increasing number of pleasure-seekers, the ferries being busy 
every pleasant summer afternoon. Hempstead and Salisbury 
Plains attracted fashionable crowds to the horse-races which had 
been held there every season since 1665. "Upwards of seventy 
chairs and chaises were carried over the Brooklyn Ferry the day 
before," the Weekly Post-Boy reported after one race meeting, 
"besides a far greater number of horses." 25 In the years immedi- 
ately preceding the Revolution the stables of imported thorough- 
breds built up by a number of wealthy New Yorkers gave a wide 
fame to Salisbury. "These plains were celebrated for their races 
throughout all the Colonies and even in England," a London race 
book stated in 1776. "They were held twice a year for a silver 
cup, to which the gentry of New England and New York re- 
sorted." 26 

Other sports enjoyed at least occasionally by wealthy New 
Yorkers are indicated by contemporary references to pleasure 
boats, shooting matches, cork swimming-jackets, "gouff clubs," 
and (as advertised by James Rivington in 1766) "battledores and 
shuttlecocks, cricket-balls, pillets, best racquets for tennis and 
fives. . . ." 27 Cock-fighting, to say nothing of animal baitings, had 
its devotees among the aristocracy as well as among the common 
people. The diary of the chaplain of the English troops makes 
frequent references to the mains he attended: "Prayers, visited 
at night ye fighting cocks," or "I was late at ye fighting cocks." 2S 

Balls and assemblies, card parties and evening frolics, were 
greatly enjoyed. The diary of Elisha Parker in 1747 records his 
being invited to both the Old Assembly and the Young Assem- 
bly. 29 The newspapers always noted the great occasion of tihe 
Governor's Ball. "The night was passed in the general satisfac- 
tion," stated one such report, "without the least incivility offered 
or offence taken by any one, which is scarce to be said on the 
like occasions." In 1762 sixty-nine couples attended a lavish ball 


given by Sir Jeffrey Amherst which was adjudged the "most ele- 
gant ever seen in America." 30 

William Livingstone, later to be governor of New Jersey, has 
left a record of waffle frolics. When one such entertainment 
included cards and a magnificent supper, he expressed his sur- 
prise that so luxurious a feast should be given this humble name. 
The evening concluded, he further noted somewhat cryptically, 
with "ten sunburnt virgins lately come -from Columbia's New- 
foundland, besides a play of my own invention . . . kissing con- 
stitutes a great part of its entertainment." S1 

New York had its concerts. One for the benefit of Mr. Pachel- 
bel, harpsichord player, was advertised in 1735; weekly per- 
formances, with both professional and amateur instrumentalists, 
were being given in the 1760's, and in the period just before the 
Revolution there was a great deal of musical activity. It is inter- 
esting to trace through these days the career of Mr. Herman 
Zedwitz, successively concertmaster at "Hull's Assembly Rooms, 
at the Sign of the Golden Spade," chimney-sweep, and a traitor 
to the patriot cause. 32 Band music was played at the Vauxhall 
Gardens kept by Samuel Francis, later steward of General Wash- 
ington, and open-air concerts were given three times a week at 
the garden of the Kings Arms. 

A more distinctive feature of the city's recreational life was 
the theatre. New York gave an early welcome to the stage, 
although just how early cannot be definitely stated. Its historians 
have had an agreeable time progressively moving farther and 
farther back the probable occasion of the first American theat- 
rical performance. They may yet arrive at the landing of the 
Jamestown settlers aboard the Susan Constant. For it was a 
practice early in the seventeenth century for sailors aboard Eng- 
lish ships to hold amateur theatricals, and as early as 1607 a 
Captain Keeling, of the East India Company, reported a showing 
of Hamlet aboard the ship Dragon** 

However that may be, there is definite evidence of a certain 
Richard Hunter's petitioning the legislature of New York for a 


license to act plays about 1699; the English actor Anthony Aston 
(arriving "full of Lice, Shame, Poverty, Nakedness, and Hun- 
ger") has left on record that he was playing in the colonies in 
1703-04; there is notice of a performance of The Recruiting Of- 
ficer in New York on December 6, 1732; and seven years later 
The Adventures of Harlequin and Scaramouche, or The Spaniard 
Trick'd, was staged at Mr. Holt's Long Room with a prologue 
beginning "This gen'rous Town which nurs'd our infant Stage." 34 
If no one of these isolated references to the stage is accepted as 
marking the real beginning of New York's theatrical history, the 
New Yorfc Gazette or Weekly Post-Boy records the brief and 
somewhat inglorious season ("they met with small encourage- 
ment'*) of a company of comedians, believed to have been a 
troupe headed by Thomas Kean and Walter Murray, which 
moved upon New York from Philadelphia and gave a series of 
plays in the winter of 1749-50. 35 

Three years later a band of professional actors headed by 
Mr. and Mrs. Lewis HaUam arrived. They had reached this 
country in 1752 by way of the West Indies and had already 
acted for almost a year in the South, but their reception in New 
York was only moderately enthusiastic. They soon returned to 
the richer harvests to be gleaned in Jamaica. There Lewis Hallam 
died, his widow married David Douglass, and soon afterwards 
the reorganized troupe, now known as the American Company 
of Comedians, made a second and more successful venture to 
the American mainland. From 1758 until the Revolution forced 
their temporary withdrawal, they played before colonial audi- 
ences from Albany to Charleston. 

New York's first permanent theatre was the John Street, opened 
in 1767. It was a small house, seating perhaps three hundred, 
and drew its audiences from both the aristocracy and the less 
polite members of society. The presence of the former is attested 
by advertisements warning patrons to send their servants by 
four in the afternoon to reserve their places for them, and to set 
their carriages down with the horses' heads facing up John 

New-York. November 

By a Company of COMEDIANS, 

At the New-Theatre, in Naffau-Streef* 

This Evening, being the 1 2th of November^ will be prdented, 

An Hiflorical Py 9 call'd, 



The Diftrefies and Death of King fe*ry the Vlth ; the artful 
Acquisition of the Crown by Crook-facPd Richard ; the Murder 
of the euro young Princes in the Tower ; and the memorable 
Battle of Bo/wortb-Fzeld; being the laft that was fought between 
theHoufes of York and Lancafter* 

by Mr. 

by Mr. 

Prince f&oarJ+ \*v Ma 

Dukeofror*, by Mi&ct A. 

Earl of JZwAwtf*/, by Mr. Oarkfm* 

Duke of*rtttg&ia<, by Mr. 

Duke of Ntrfofc* by Mr. 

by Mr. 

by Mr. 

by Mr. 


by Mrs. 

Duchcft of rr*, by Mn. Jfi^y. 

To which will be tdded> 
A Ballad FARCE call'd, 

The DErrL TO P ^4 

Mr. MtK*. 


by Mr. 

Lady tjorjeruff* by Mrs. Akeck. 

JVW/r by Mrs. f 

JLtWfff by 

Zjy by 

'.- BOX, 6 s / PIT, 4/ GALLERY, syC 
No Peiibns whatever to be admitted behind the Scenes. 

A^ A. G&ut&ncn and Ladies that cbufe 3ickets 9 may bave them. 

at Mr* Parker*/ tnid Mr. GaincV Prixting-Officff* 

Money will be taken ac the DOOR. 

To begin at 6 o'clock. 

Playbill of the Hallam Company of Comedians 
November 12, 1753, in their first New York season. 


Street; that of the latter by notices requesting the gallery gods 
not to throw eggs on the stage. 86 Admission ranged from three to 
eight shillings, however, and the colonial theatre was primarily 
class entertainment. On one occasion a mob broke in on a 
performance of The Twin Rivals and sent the audience flying 
as a protest against such extravagance while there was serious 
distress among the poor. 37 

It was at this theatre that the first American comedy to be 
regularly produced, Royall Tyler's The Contrast, was staged on 
April 16, 1787. One of its characters, prototype of the country 
yokel in the big city, describes the playhouse. "As I was going 
about here and there, to and again, to find it," Jonathan says, 
"I saw a great crowd of folks going into a long entry that had 
lanterns over the door. ... So I went right in, and they showed 
me away, clean up to the garret, just like a meeting-house gal- 
lery. And so I saw a power of topping folks, all sitting around 
in little cabins, just like father's corn cribs; and there was such a 
squeaking with the fiddlers, and such a tarnel blaze with the 
Alights, my head was near turned." 8S 

Jonathan was none too comfortable in the gallery, but accom- 
modations for "the power of topping folks'* were not much 
better. The two little rows of boxes and the pit were furnished 
only with hard wooden benches. Heat for the cold winter nights 
came from a large stove in the foyer, but the wiser members of 
the audience brought their own foot-warmers. Candles provided 
the lighting, often dripping on the powdered wigs of those in 
the boxes. Although the audience were supposed to keep their 
seats, the management repeatedly complained in public notices 
that "gentlemen crowd the stage and very much interrupt the 

Staging and scenery were primitive. When the green curtain 
was raised on the sharp blast of a whistle, the audience saw a 
few painted flats and a backcloth. Stagehands were liable to 
appear at any moment to shift the flats or to snuff a candle foot- 
lightif one of the actors had not in the meantime broken off 


his lines to do it himself. The performance was Elizabethan in 
its simplicity, but colonial audiences were not over-critical. 

The play was the thing. The American Company of Comedians 
included in its repertoire not only all the Shakespearean plays, 
but the best of Elizabethan and Restoration comedies and popu- 
lar ballad-operas. Its principal offerings were tempered by farces 
played as afterpieces. At the John Street Theatre the social 
world of colonial New York saw Richard the Third, The Beggars 
Opera, and Venice Preserved; Hamlet, The Beaux Strategem, 
and She Stoops to Conquer; Flora, or Hob in the Well, The 
Mock Doctor, and High Life Below Stairs. 39 

IN THE SOUTHERN colonies, social life was even more varied and 
colorful than in the prosperous cities of the North. The planters 
rode to hounds through the lush countryside of Virginia and 
Maryland in blue coats and scarlet waistcoats; they went to 
horse-races and cock-fights, betting heavily in so many pounds 
of tobacco or so many slaves; and they flocked to Williamsburg, 
Annapolis, or Charleston for the most festive social seasons any- 
where in America. Washington Irving, in his Life of George 
Washington, describes how the young ladies of Maryland rode 
to the assembly at Annapolis in scarlet riding-habits thrown 
over their satin ball dresses, kerchiefs drawn about the great 
masses of their puffed and pomaded hair, and after dancing 
through the night rode home again in the shadowy dawn. 

Through their immense holdings of lands and slaves, the plant- 
ers had acquired wealth which set them off completely from 
the yeomanry of tidewater and the small farmers of the back 
country. Tobacco, rice, and indigo had been transmuted into 
riches, and the southern aristocracy seized upon every possible 
opportunity for diversion. They were not bothered by the puri- 
tanic soul-searching which sometimes still inhibited New Eng- 
land's wealthy merchants. They did not care whether their 
amusements were inspired by God or the Devil. 


"Indolent, easy and good-natured/* was Andrew Burnaby's 
characterization; ^'extremely fond of society and much given to 
convivial pleasures." 40 Somewhat later the Marquis of Chastellux 
caustically declared that the young men were all gamblers, cock- 
fighters, and horse jockeys "to hear them converse, you would 
imagine that the grand point of all science was properly to fix 
a gaff and touch with dexterity the tail of a cock while in com- 
bat." 41 The planters were not the cavaliers of southern legend, 
but they lived the life of the English aristocrat on their great 
plantations, the life of the fox-hunting country squire, just as 
fully as circumstances would permit. It was the most leisured 
and pleasure-loving society America has ever known and it 
produced some of the country's greatest political leaders. 

One of the most engaging descriptions of this life is con- 
tained in the diary of Philip Vickers Fithian, a young northerner 
who acted as tutor for the children of Colonel Robert Carter at 
Nomini Hall, in Westmoreland County, Virginia. A serious- 
minded young man (he had studied for the Presbyterian min- 
istry at Nassau Hall), Fithian was somewhat disturbed by the 
gaiety of the society into which he was thrown "the Balls, the 
Fish-Feasts, the Dancing-Schools, the Christenings, the Cock- 
fights, the Horse-Races. . . " 42 He could not approve an attitude 
which placed so high a premium on pleasure and amusement 
that even the Sabbath was largely given over to diversions. It 
troubled his Calvinistic conscience that every one should look 
festive and cheerful on the Lord's Day. 43 

His diary tells of race meets at Richmond where the stakes on 
a single race were 500, and of cock-fights which created the 
wildest excitement both in the Great House and in the slave 
quarters. It records a gala occasion with boat-racing on the 
Rappahannock, and afternoons with the gentry bowling on the 
green at Nomini Hall. The generous southern hospitality of Colo- 
nel Carter, guests being always present at a table luxuriously 
supplied with all the varied produce of the plantation and a 
wealth of wines and liquors, greatly impressed him. And it 


seemed that the women o the South rode about as freely as the 
men in their visits to neighboring plantations. "Almost every 
Lady wears a red Cloak," Fithian reported wonderingly, "and 
when they ride out they tye a red handkerchief over their Head 
and face." 44 He thought at first that the toothache was epidemic 
throughout Virginia. 

Nomini Hall was a musical household. One day Fithian came 
home about candle-light to find "Mrs. Carter in the yard seeing 
to the Roosting of her Poultry; and the Colonel in the Parlour 
timing his guitar." There were many evenings when the Colo- 
nel was so disposed music was his "darling amusement" and 
the tutor took part in many informal concerts. Colonel Carter 
had a harpsichord, a forte-piano, a German flute, and a har- 
monica. The latter, of course, was not our modern mouth-organ. 
It was an instrument invented by "Mr. B. Franklin of Phila- 
delphia . . . being the musical glasses without water." Fithian 
declared that its virtues "far exceed even the swelling Organ." 45 

Of all the diversions of the plantation, the one that most in- 
trigued this conscientious northerner with his Presbyterian scruples 
was the dancing. There were not only regular classes for the chil- 
dren, Mr. Christian coming over to Nomini Hall after giving his 
lessons at Mount Vernon, but frequent formal dances. During the 
Christmas holidays there was talk of little else than "the balls, 
the Fox-hunts, and fine entertainments." 

"The assembly was remarkably numerous; beyond my expec- 
tations, and exceedingly polite in general," Fithian wrote of one 
affair to which he was somewhat unwillingly taken. But while 
not even Mr. Christian could persuade him to take up dancing 
himself, he greatly enjoyed watching it, especially the jigs, reels, 
and country dances the company "moving easily, to the sound 
of well-performed Music, and with perfect regularity, tho' ap- 
parently in the utmost disorder." He would spend most of the 
evening wandering about, looking in occasionally at the people 
in the drawing-rooms drinking and playing cards. Little escaped 
his observant eye: "There was A short pretty stump of a girl. A 


young Spark seemed to be fond of her; She seemed to be fond 
of him; they both were fond, & the Company saw it. ... The in- 
sinuating Rogue waited on her home, in close Hugg too, the 
moment he left the Bail-Room." 46 

On this first occasion Fithian at length became anxious to get 
away, yet he could not help being drawn back again and again. 
"The ladies were dressed Gay and splendid, & when dancing, 
their skirts & Brocades rustled and trailed behind them!'* With 
what seems to have been a somewhat un-Presbyterian eye, he 
noticed that Miss Betsy Lee was "pinched up rather too near" in 
a long pair of the new-fashioned stays which permitted "scarce 
any view at all of the Ladies Snowy Bosoms/ 7 and described 
Miss PrisciHa Hale as "a slim, puny silent Virgin. ... I dare say 
from her Character that her Modesty is invincible." He had left 
his own love in the North. It was she whom he always had in 
mind when the gentlemen drank their toasts to the ladies of 
Nomini Hall. So after a time Fithian wandered out to walk alone 
through the woods. He sadly took out his penknife and "carved 
Laura's much admired Name upon a smooth beautiful Beech 
Tree." 47 

THE FIELD sports which were such a distinctive feature of plan- 
tation life are illustrated in a somewhat better known diary, that 
of George Washington. This typical southern gentleman was a 
great rider and huntsman. He was proud of his horses, his pack 
of hounds (Pilot, Musick, Countess, Truelove), and his imported 
fowling-pieces. His riding-frocks, waistcoats of superfine scarlet 
cloth and gold lace, his elegant buckskin breeches, were all spe- 
cially made in England. Diary entries under the heading "Where 
and how my time is spent" bear frequent witness to the days he 
*went a ducking" or "a Fox hunting in the Neck." During Jan- 
uary and February, 1769, for example, he rode to hounds fifteen 
times, one week on six successive days. 48 
Washington was equally enthusiastic about social activities, 


especially dancing. His diaiy usually records attendance at the 
balls and assemblies at Williamsburg, Annapolis, or Alexandria 
with the brief note, 'Went to the play and Ball.** On February 5, 
1760, there was an occasion which inspired more extensive com- 
ment: 'Went to the Ball at Alexandria, where Musick and Danc- 
ing was the chief Entertainment. However in a convenient Room 
detached for the purpose abounded great plenty of Bread and 
Butter, some biscuits with Tea, and Coffee which the Drinker 
of could not Distinguish from Hot water sweetened. Be it remem- 
bered that pocket handkerchiefs served the purpose of Table 
Cloths & Napkins and that no apologies were made for either. 
I shall therefore distinguish this Ball by the Stile and Title of 
the Bread and Butter Ball/* 49 

The proprietor of Mount Vernon, whose innate dignity has 
been translated in terms of dull stuffiness for so many gener- 
ations of schoolboys, quite evidently preferred the wines more 
generally served at colonial assemblies to the pallid refreshment 
of weak coffee. But the dancing itself was the lure that drew him 
even to bread-and-butter balls. One wonders, recalling the 
marked contrast in his attitude toward social pleasures to that of 
the man who was to be so closely associated with him in later 
years, at what point John Adams may have finally admitted that 
there might be a good dancer who was also good for something 

Another Virginia- planter who thoroughly enjoyed the various 
aspects of the South's recreational life was Thomas Jefferson. 
"From the circumstances of my position,'* he once wrote, "I was 
often thrown into the society of horse-racers, card-players, fox 
hunters. ..." It was not said in disparagement. He thoroughly 
enjoyed the victory of a favorite horse and being in at the death 
of a fox. Even greater was his fondness for music "the favorite 
passion of my soul" and there were few more zealous dancers at 
the fashionable balls in the Raleigh Tavern at Williamsburg. In 
his young days Jefferson once wrote a friend of his conception 
of the ideal life: "Get a pole chair and a pair of keen horses, 


practice the law in the same courts, and drive about to all the 
dances in the country together." 50 

The colonial South had another amusement in the theatre. It 
was there the Hallams had first landed, and nowhere did the 
American Company of Comedians find more appreciative au- 
diences. It was a part of the English tradition this aristocratic 
society encouraged. Plays were staged not only at Williamsburg, 
Annapolis, and Charleston, but at Hobb's Hole, Port Tobacco, 
Upper Maxlborough, and other little villages where the near-by 
planters could congregate. As the players moved on from town 
to town, many of the audience followed them. In the season of 
1771-72 we find Washington attending the play four times at 
Annapolis and four times at Williamsburg during the fall, and 
then seven times at Williamsburg and four times at Annapolis in 
the spring. The total cost of his tickets for these performances 
of the Hallams (as well as a waxworks exhibition and a puppet- 
show) came to 17. 51 

Amateur theatricals are recorded in Virginia as early as 1665, 
when a play ^commonly called Ye Bare and Ye Cubb" was put 
on; Williamsburg had a theatre in 1716, perhaps the first in Amer- 
ica, and there is notice of a performance of Otway's Orphan in 
Charleston, South Carolina, in 1735. The Murray and Kean 
troupe toured the South after playing in Philadelphia and New 
York. But it was the Hallams, giving their first American per- 
formance at Williamsburg on September 15, 1752, that introduced 
the theatre to the South, as well as to the North, on something 
like a permanent basis. 52 

Advance notices in the Virginia Gazette told of the Hallams* 
pending performances. Scenes, costumes, and decorations were 
entirely new, giving every assurance that the audience could 
count "on being entertained in as polite a Manner as at the 
Theatre in London." The Merchant of Venice was played first, 
and a few days later Othello. Governor Dinwiddie took the royal 
family of the Cherokee Nation to the latter performance. So con- 
vincing was the players* acting that the chieftain's consort could 


hardly be restrained from ordering "some about her to go and 
prevent their lolling one another." 5S 

Possibly the most brilliant dramatic season of the American 
Company was that at Charleston, the social and cultural capital 
of the South, in 1773-74. "All seems at present to be trade, riches, 
magnificence and great state in everything; much gaiety and 
dissipation,** a northern visitor, Josiah Quincy, Jr., wrote that 
year. 54 And well he might. The visiting players gave over a 
hundred performances, their repertoire including no less than 
fifty-eight different offerings. Eleven of Shakespeare's plays were 
staged, eight of Garrick's, and almost all the popular ballad- 
operas of the day. 55 

THE CENTERS of society Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Wil- 
liamsburg, and Charleston were so widely separated that there 
was little contact among the aristocracy of the different colonies. 
The lack of roads, and the miserable condition of such roads as 
there were, constituted a barrier to pleasure travel which even 
wealth could not easily overcome. One might journey by boat, at 
considerable expense, but by coach or stage it was an experience 
not many people willingly undertook. In few respects have condi- 
tions of life so greatly changed as in the broadening of our 
horizons through modern means of transportation. 

Nevertheless there were occasional instances of touring the 
colonies, and for such hardy travelers, with the proper letters of 
introduction, an entree into society was provided through the 
various social and sporting clubs found in every city. In the next 
century Alexis de Tocqueville was to note an unusual peculiarity 
of Americans whenever public pleasure was concerned: an as- 
sociation would be formed "to give more splendor and regularity 
to the entertainment/* 66 This tendency already had expression in 
the colonies through the social clubs which met at the taverns 
and coffee-houses for conversation and drinking. 

On a trip north in 1744, Dr. Alexander Hamilton of Maryland 


was entertained at the Physical Club and Withered's in Boston; 
in the Philosophical Club at Newport (where he was unduly 
surprised "to find that no matters of philosophy were brought 
upon the carpet"); and at the Hungarian Club in New York 
"after supper they set in for drinking, to which I was averse, and 
therefore sat upon nettles/' 57 On visiting Philadelphia, Andrew 
Burnaby wrote of the "Colony in SchuyUdlT whose members "di- 
vert themselves with walking, fishing, going up the water, danc- 
ing, singing, conversing, or just as they please." 5S In Annapolis 
the Tuesday Club met every week, serving at its dinner only one 
dish of "vitdes" and no liquor after eleven. Charleston had its 
well-known Jockey Club (as did Annapolis) and a Monday 
Night Club, while Savannah enjoyed a Quoits Club. 59 

Another meeting-ground for colonial society was Newport, 
Rhode Island. "It is made the resort every summer," Robert Mel- 
ville, the governor of Granada, wrote in 1765, "of numerous 
wealthy inhabitants of the Southern Colonies, and the West 
Indies, seeking health and pleasure." In the eight years from 
1767 to 1775, indeed, the pioneer society column of the Newport 
Mercury listed some four hundred summer visitors. 60 

The amusements of these vacationists included the assemblies, 
card parties, and concerts that characterized their social activities 
at home. The Mercury carried notices of the availability of Mrs. 
Cowley's long room for dancing, with a "separate genteel Apart- 
ment with card-tables and a good Fire," and of an "Entertainment 
of Musick every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, 
to be given by Mr. Henry Hymes." Newport also offered outdoor 
dances and evening promenades, driving in chaises, beach races 
of the famous Narragansett pacers, turtle dinners on Goat Island, 
and excursions on "the new pleasure-boat, Liberty/' 61 

David Douglass even brought the American Company to New- 
port in a daring theatrical invasion of New England. No more 
sympathetic audience was likely to be found in all America, but 
there remained the fact that geographicaDy at least Newport was 
within the precincts of Puritanism. A performance to be given 


at the King's Anns Tavern on June 10, 1762, was therefore an- 
nounced as a moral dialogue. The sole object of the entertain- 
ment, it was carefully explained, was to depict "the evil effects 
of jealousy and other bad passions. . . . Proving that happiness 
can only spring from the pursuit of Virtue." Mr. Douglass him- 
self would represent "a noble and magnanimous Moor/* Mr. Hal- 
lam take the part of a "young and thoughtless officer," while Mrs. 
Morris would be cast as a "young and virtuous wife, who, being 
wrongfully suspected, gets smothered (in an adjoining room) by 
her husband." The dialogue was to conclude at ten-thirty "in 
order that every spectator may go home at a sober hour, and re- 
flect upon what he has seen, before he retires to rest" 62 

What could be more conducive to morals? What could offer 
less offense to the puritan conscience? But there were Calvinists 
in Rhode Island who had heard of Othello, who had heard of 
Shakespeare. They knew the theatre for the Devil's handiwork 
which it really was. A few performances were given in Newport, 
the company even ventured to Providence, but the Rhode Island 
Assembly soon took decisive action. There would be no more 
theatrical performances, on penalty of 100 fine for every 
actor. 63 Newport continued to flourish as a summer resort, but it 
had to get along without its theatre. 

ON THE EVE of the Revolution the Continental Congress proposed 
to curtail the amusements of the colonial aristocracy. One of the 
articles of the "Association" of 1774 called upon the several col- 
onies to "discountenance and discourage every Species of Ex- 
travagance and Dissipation, especially all Horse Racing, and all 
Kinds of Gaming, Cock Fighting, Exhibitions of Shows, Plays, 
and other expensive Diversions and Entertainments. . . ." M 

It is interesting that these amusements should have had a suffi- 
ciently wide vogue to warrant such action; it is interesting to 
speculate upon the possible motives behind this drastic ban. Was 
it an expression of popular discontent with an extravagant way 


of life which contrasted too sharply with the simple, frugal, hard- 
working life of the colonial yeomanry? Was it the sign of an in- 
herent Puritanism in the attitude of the New England delegates 
at the Continental Congress which was outraged by the frivolity 
of the rich planters of the South? The Revolution had its social 
as well as its political aspects. It -was an attack upon economic 
privilege at home as well as upon political control from abroad. 
This resolution voiced a protest which may well have reflected 
the stirrings of a new class consciousness in colonial America. 

In any event, the local committees of correspondence and the 
Sons of Liberty, representing the masses rather than the classes, 
took it upon themselves to enforce the resolution. Horse-races 
'were effectively prohibited, the American Company of Come- 
dians compelled to leave for the West Indies, and balls and as- 
semblies were on occasion broken up by radical agitators. The 
recreation of merchant and planter was rudely interrupted even 
before war broke out, and not until well after the Revolution 
could a restored society again enjoy a social life in any way 
comparable to that of the middle of the eighteenth century. 



-fJL fitting into no general pattern, were the amusements of the 
frontier. They maintained their place in our national life for 
almost a century after the establishment of the Republic. New 
developments affecting other phases of social activity did not 
touch them. But the frontier during these years was being pushed 
farther and farther westward, changing in place if not in spirit 
And once civilization had caught up with it on the slopes of the 
Alleghenies, in the valley of the Mississippi, on the Great Plains 
the natural restraints of a more conventional way of life quickly 
spelled the decline of many of the pioneers* rough and boisterous 

At the opening of the nineteenth century, travelers in Ohio 
brought home vivid accounts of the "dram-drinking, jockeying, 
and gambling" that characterized the frontier. They told tall 
tales of barbecues and backwoods balls where home-distilled 
whisky stood ready at hand in an open tub, a drinking-gourd 
beside it The women sometimes drank toddies; the men took 
theirs straight: 

Hail Columbia, happy land, 
If you ain't drunk, 111 be damned. 

Some three decades later, when this pioneer country had become 
a state proudly boasting close upon a minion inhabitants, Frances 
Trollope was visiting Cincinnati. "The only rural amusement in 
which we ever saw the natives engaged," die wrote, "was eating 
strawberries and cream in a pretty garden about three miles from 



town." * So rapidly did the new West progress from its tumultu- 
ous beginnings. 

The story was a similar one everywhere. The Federalist period 
found the western pioneers enjoying very much the same diver- 
sions from the backwoods of New York to those of Georgia. 
Twenty years pass, and the environment has so changed that 
the life of these early days is almost legend, but the same scenes 
are being reenacted on the new frontier in the Ohio Valley. Two 
more decades, and this western border is pushed beyond the 
Great River; soon the trails to Oregon and California will be 
opened up. And finally the latter half of the nineteenth century 
will witness settlement of the prairie states, the establishment 
of the cow-towns of Kansas and Wyoming, the mining-camps of 
Colorado and Nevada. Here again the exuberant spirit of the 
early frontier, with even more riotous emphasis on its drinking 
and gambling, will flare up and then die away against the color- 
ful background of Abilene or Virginia City. 

In this new western country a nation was being born. Its set- 
tlers were not transplanted Englishmen, but largely men born 
on American soil and imbued with American ideals. They poured 
forth from the older states in successive waves, these pioneers 
whose restless steps led them continually toward the setting sun. 
Hunters and trappers, carrying lightly their long rifles, blazed 
the forest trails; land-hungry settlers followed in their wake with 
ax and plow to clear the land and build their log-cabin homes; 
and at last the artisans and mechanics and tradespeople drove 
over the widening trails in lumbering Conestoga wagons to trans- 
form the scattered frontier outposts into thriving towns. 

Life in this virgin territory was on a more generous scale than 
life had been on the shores of the Atlantic at a similar stage of 
development. Distances were greater, the vast forest lands more 
impenetrable, the rivers longer and deeper. With land trails more 
difficult of passage than ocean routes, the first settlers in trans- 
Appalachia were actually more cut off from civilization than 
the founders of America had been from their homeland. They 


were freer from restraining influences; circumstances compelled 
them to be more independent and self-sufficient With no over- 
seas trading companies sending them supplies, buying their prod- 
ucts, exercising control over their activities, the western pioneers 
recognized no authority except of their own choosing. 

They came from all ranks of contemporary society: there 
were the amiable and the virtuous, in the approving phrase of 
Timothy Flint (hopefully distributing copies of The Swearer's 
Prayer" to Pennsylvania teamsters), and the scoundrels and wast- 
rels singled out by Timothy Dwight. The pioneers of the new 
West, that is, comprised a cross-section of society in the older 
states just as the colonial settlers had represented all social ele- 
ments of seventeenth-century England. But experience in Amer- 
ica had given them a new approach to life. They were tougher 
and more adaptable. They were not the men to starve when fish 
and game were plentiful. They had expansive theories of democ- 
racy and a strong belief in the equality of man. They had an 
individualism which would not permit them to settle together in 
close little towns comparable to those of New England in the 
early days of settlement. Each man was prepared to hew his 
own way through the world. 

Their recreations reflected their environment. They had no 
more leisure than the first settlers in America; they had less op- 
portunity for social gatherings. The frontier offered a lonely and 
hard Me. But when the craving for companionship could no 
longer be ignored, when the need for amusement had to be satis- 
fied, there were no artificial constraints or polite conventions 
about the pioneer celebrations. Here were no self-constituted 
magistrates attempting to regulate manners and morals or to 
enforce rules against the "mispense of time." In so far as earlier 
traditions affected the pioneer attitude, the liberal influence of 
the early French settlers in the Mississippi Valley outweighed 
that of Puritan New England. In a spirit of full democracy, the 
frontiersmen intended to enjoy themselves when they met at 
their log-rollings and barbecues and camp-meetings. The re- 


pressive influence of the more civilized East would soon reach 
them, but for a time the pioneers lived their own life. 

They drank the raw, stinging whisky of the country with even 
more gusto than their colonial forebears; they gambled with 
greater abandon over horses and cards. The sports and games 
that marked their infrequent social gatherings were always 
rough, and sometimes brutal. When they met on some festive 
occasion, they danced through the whole night. They had no 
thought of observing Sunday quiet and decorum. As the frontier 
stretched ever farther westward, they boasted that the Sabbath 
would never cross the Mississippi. 

IN THE FIRST DAYS of settlement the frontiersman was seldom 
seen without his rifle, generally a long and heavy single-barreled 
flintlock; his otter-skin bullet pouch, with its string of patches; 
his powder-horn; and his "iron hook to tote squirrels." Often a 
pack of mongrel dogs crowded his moccasined heels. The co- 
lonial settler with his Old World background had hardly known 
how to handle his gun; the ways of the forest were entirely 
strange to him. These later pioneers were thoroughly at home 
on its narrow, winding trails; they were hunters before every- 
thing else. 

The wealth of game along this new frontier was even greater 
than that of the Atlantic seaboard. In his Memorable Days in 
America, William Faux relates that there were times when the 
flocks of wild pigeons roosting on the trees sent them crashing 
to the ground amid "a scene of confusion and destruction, too 
strange to describe, and too dangerous to be approached by 
either man or beast." 2 The dead pigeons would be gathered up 
by the cartload which is recorded as an illustration of the game 
available rather than of the sport of hunting. 

Competitive squirrel hunts are often mentioned in travel ac- 
counts. On one occasion two competing teams of four men each 
returned at nightfall, the one with 152 squirrels and the other 


with 141. Another time two thousand tails were brought home 
as trophies. The record was perhaps that announced by the 
Kentucky Gazette in May, 1796. It reported that a party of 
hunters "rendezvoused at Irvine's Lick and produced seven 
thousand nine hundred and forty-one Squirrels killed by them 
in one day."* The frontiersmen were such crack shots, as Audu- 
bon and many others have testified, that they could kill a squirrel 
by barking it firing so close to it that the squirrel would fall to 
the ground stunned by the concussion, without actually being 
touched by the bullet 3 

Wolf drives and ring hunts were also features of pioneer life. 
An army of men and boys from near-by settlements would form 
a vast encircling line of huntsmen around an area of perhaps forty 
square miles. Gradually they would close in the circle, driving 
ahead of them all the game they could scare up. When at last 
the ring was so small that the harried animals began to try to 
break through, the signal of a huntsman's horn would start a 
wholesale slaughter. Guns would be used as long as this was rea- 
sonably safe, and then clubs, pitchforks, any available weapon. 
At one such hunt, some sixty bear, twenty-five deer, one hundred 
turkeys, and even larger numbers of smaller animals and game- 
birds were reported to have fallen before the enthusiastic 

Pride in marksmanship made shooting matches of all kinds 
even more popular than they had been in the colonies. They 
were an institution along the entire border at the close of the 
Revolution, and they followed the frontier westward, bequeath- 
ing to more settled communities in the East rifle clubs and trap- 
shooting. It was no longer customary to shoot at a live mark, a 
staked fowl or animal, and take it off as the trophy. Targets were 
more generally used, and a "beeve" or a barrel of whisky was 
often the prize. 

Entrants in one of these contests would pay twenty-five cents 
for each shot, each man supplying his own target, a cross mark- 
ing the bull's-eye or a center nail. Rides of procedure would be 


carefully agreed upon (such as the allowance for an offhand 
shot as opposed to shooting with a rest) and an impartial board 
of judges selected. To the marksman who most often hit the 
bull's-eye, or drove his center nail in farthest, custom decreed 
award of the hide and tallow of the beef animal for which they 
were shooting; to the second highest scorer went choice of the 
animal's hindquarters; third, the remaining hindquarter; fourth, 
choice of the forequarters; fifth, the remaining f orequarter; while 
the man in sixth place would be entitled to the lead in the tree 
on which the targets had been set up. 

This is one of our homely amusements," wrote Colonel Davy 
Crockett. "Each man^laES^a part, if he pleases, and no one is 
excepted." Side bets generally enlivened the match, Davy Crock- 
ett declaring that he would "never bet anything beyond a quart 
of whisky upon a rifle shot which I considered a legal bet, and 
a gentlemanly and rational amusement." * 

A more hazardous type of shooting match, which John Bernard 
mentions as popular in the western parts of the Carolinas early 
in the century, was "sho^^g^the^tin^jpup/' 5 We are told that it 
meant jftsrjfe shooting a tin cup off a man's head at thirty 
paces for a prize of a quart of whisky. Mike Fink, the legendary 
hero of the Ohio keel-boat men, was to become the great cham- " 
pion at this sport. The redoubtable Mike is said never~tb have 
missed until the sad occasion when "corned too Heavy ... he 
elevated too low.*' He shot his man through the head, and it was 
the resentment of the victim's friends at such inexcusable care- ' 
lessness that finally brought to a violent end the last of the great 
rivennen. , 

Racing was almost as universal an amusement as shooting 
matches, a characteristic feature of every pioneer celebration. 
Every owner of a horse was confident of its prowess and eager 
to match it against all comers. And for the entire community the 
race offered a chance to bet America has always had its race 
meets, from colonial days to the present, but the informal, spon- 
taneous quarter-racing of the countryside was for long a far 

Painting by George Caleb Bingham, 1850, Garvan Collection, Courtesy 
of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 

Joys of the Camp-Meeting 

Lithograph by Kennedy and Lucas after a painting by A. Rider. Courtesy 
of Harry T. Peters. 


more general sport It followed the frontier from the Atlantic 
seaboard to Wyoming and Arizona. In the early days of settle- 
ment in the valley of the Ohio, there were races of every kind. 
Lively accounts tell of all Pittsburgh turning out in that city: 
the local course lined with an excited crowd; the* betting, drink- 
ing, and occasional fisticuffs; the sudden rush to the rails as the 
cry rang out, "To horse, to horse!" 6 

The importance of physical strength in pioneer life gave a 
fresh interest to other traditional colonial sports, and also ac- 
counted for new variations of the older events. Throwing the 
long bullet, hurling the tomahawk, and flinging the rail were 
added to the usual foot-races, jumping contests, and wrestling 
matches. In place of the old sport of quoits at which Chief 
Justice Marshall had been a club champion the homely pastime 
of pitching horseshoes became a favorite game. It was to remain 
one for the next century, a typically American amusement 

Andrew Jackson was reputed to be a champion at throwing 
the long bullet a sport which involved throwing, or slinging 
from a leather strap, an iron ball of several pounds weight in 
such a way as to make it roll through a marked goal. Abraham 
Lincoln won wide fame for his weight-lifting and wrestling 
prowess. Reminiscences of the latter's contemporaries recall that 
the awkward country boy, so strong that he could pick up a 
whisky barrel and drink out of the bung-hole, was among the 
most active in the sports of the little town of New Salem, Illinois. 
His friends were always ready to back him against all comers. 
One time he failed them. He was matched against a local wres- 
tling champion, and for all their efforts neither man could get a 
fall. Lincoln recognized his equal: "Jack, let's quit I can't throw 
you you can't throw me." 7 

Mark Twain has written of a rough-and-tumble fighter of the 
western country somewhat more confident of himself. "Whoo- 
oopl I'm the old original iron-jawed, brass-mounted, copper- 
bellied corpse-maker from the wilds of Arkansaw!" this shrinking 
violet announced as he challenged all comers. "Look at me! I'm 


the man they call Sudden Death and General Desolation! Sired 
by a hurricane, dam'd by an earthquake, half-brother to the 
cholera, nearly related to the small-pox on the mother's side! 
Look at me! I take nineteen alligators and a barl of whiskey for 
breakfast when I'm in robust health, and a bushel of rattlesnakes 
and a dead body when I'm ailing. I split the everlasting rocks 
with my glance, and I squench the thunder when I speak! Stand 
back and give me room according to my strength! Blood's my 
natural drink, and the wails of the dying is music to my ear! 
Cast your eye on me, gentlemen, and lay low and hold your 
breath, for I'm T^out to turn myself loose." 8 

Sometimes these frontier bouts ended very close to Sudden 
Death. All holds were allowed, and kicking, biting, punching, 
and gouging freely permitted. "I saw more than one man, who 
wanted an eye," one traveler reported as he crossed the bor- 
der into Kentucky, "and ascertained that I was now in the region 
of 'gouging.' " 9 Another judged the respectability of the inns at 
which he was forced to put up by whether mine host still had 
his ears. 

''Very few rounds had taken place," runs a vivid account of 
one fight, "before the Virginian contracted his whole form, drew 
up his arms to his face, with his hands closed in a concave, by 
the fingers being bent to the full extension of the flexors, and 
summoning up all his energy for one act of desperation, pitched 
himself into the bosom of his opponent. . . . The shock received 
by the Kentuckian and the want of breath brought him instantly 
to the ground. The Virginian never lost his hold; fixing his claws 
in his hair and his thumbs in his eyes, he gave them an instan- 
taneous start from their sockets. The sufferer roared aloud, but 
uttered no complaint The Kentuckian not being able to disen- 
tangle his adversary from his face, adopted a new mode of war- 
fare. He extended his arms around the Virginian, and hugged 
him into closer contact with his huge body. The latter, disliking 
this, made one further effort and fastening the under lip of his 
mutilator tore it over the chin. The Kentuckian at length gave 


out, on which the people carried off the victor, and he preferring 
a triumph to a doctor . . . suffered himself to be chaired round 
the grounds as the first rough and tumbler." 10 

While this record bears the mark of a lively imagination, the 
brutality reflected in such fighting was perhaps only natural in 
a frontier community. It was also shown in the popularity of 
cock-fighting and gander-pulling. Lincoln attended cock-fights, 
as had George Washington before him, and William Herndon 
has left a fragmentary description of one such affair. "They 
formed a ring, and the time having arrived, Lincoln, with one 
hand on each hip and in a squatting position, cried, 'Ready/ 
Into the ring they toss their fowls, Bap's red rooster along with 
the rest. But no sooner had the little beauty discovered what 
was to be done than he dropped his tail and ran." la 

Whether Lincoln had a wager on Bap's disappointing game- 
cock is not revealed, but if the story had been told of Andrew 
Jackson, we could have been sure of the betting. As a young 
man in North Carolina, he was known as "the most roaring, rol- 
licking, game-cocking, horse-racing, card-playing, mischievous 
fellow, that ever lived in Salisbury." The earliest document found 
among his personal papers is a memorandum: "How to feed a 
Cock before you him fight Take and give him some Pickle Beef 
cut fine " 12 

More surprising to find in these early years are the occasional 
instances of cricket-playing reported by some travelers. Wher- 
ever settlements were made by English immigrants in the nine- 
teenth century, this sport was introduced. They played it on the 
open fields of the settled East; they played it on the little clear- 
ings of this new western country. William Faux noted it in Ken- 
tucky in 1818, and both John Woods and Richard Flower report 
it as a sport in Illinois a year later. 18 The Chicago of 1840, where 
foot-races, boating, and quoits were also general diversions, had 
three cricket teams. Here was fertile ground for the introduction 
of baseball in the middle of the century. 14 


BEES and frolics, which had become so universal a feature of 
American folk life, were often the occasion for sports and games, 
for informal horse-races, and for frontier dances. One English 
visitor came to the conclusion that Americans could not do any- 
thing without a frolic. They have husking, reaping, rolling 
frolics, &," he wrote; "among the females, they have picking, 
sewing and quilting frolics." 15 Their most general characteristic 
appears to have been their enthusiastic drinking. They had 
changed from colonial days in only one respect, the substitution 
of whisky for rum. 

The log-rolling was perhaps the most typical of these gather- 
ings. A settler taking up land in the West had a hard task clear- 
ing his ground. He would first girdle the trees on the plot he 
expected to plant, cutting a wide circle in the bark to kill them, 
but when he finally cut them down, he had to have help to roll 
the huge logs into piles for burning. Neighbors from miles 
around came to aid in this work, and the log-rolling was made a 
holiday spree in which whole families wives and children took 

Dinner was a gargantuan feast: a barbecued beef or hog, 
roasted in a deep hole lined with hot stones; quantities of buf- 
falo steaks, venison, baked 'possum or wild turkey; and always 
hominy, corn dodgers, and wheatcakes fried in bear's oil. After 
dinner and general sports, the climax of every gathering was a 
dance. The men and women of the frontier loved to dance. It 
was a favorite amusement everywhere, singled out by traveler 
after traveler surprised to find such rollicking gaiety in the 
gloomy shadows of the deep western forests. 

There were no formal rules of etiquette for the backwoods 
ball, no costumes in the latest mode of London or Paris. Deer- 
skin hunting-jackets, leggings, and moccasins for the men; for 
the women, homespun dresses of linsey-woolsey and worn shoes 
which they had perhaps carried in their hands on the long walk 
along forest trails. As for the dances themselves, "None of your 
straddling, mincing, sadying," wrote Davy Crockett, "but a regu- 


lar sifter, cut-the-buckle, chicken flutter set-to. It is a good whole- 
some exercise; and when one of our boys puts his arm around 
his partner, it's a good hug, and no harm in it" 16 

Virginia reels, country jigs, shakedowns, were the order of the 
day, danced on the forest floor as the fiddler made the catgut 
screech through the night air and the pine knots flared against a 
full moon. Some one called the numbers: 

First lady to the right, cheat and swing, 
Ladies do so do, and gents you know. 

Gents hands in your pockets, backs to the wall, 
Take a chaw of tabacker and balance alL 

Well into the morning the backwoodsmen danced: every now 
and then a halt for a "bite and a swig," but the violins always 
called them back to their wooded ball-room. 

"Every countenance beamed with joy," wrote Audubon, lyri- 
cally describing a Kentucky barbecue in 1834, "every heart 
leaped with gladness; no pride, no pomp, no affectation were 
there; their spirits brightened as they continued their exhilarat- 
ing exercise, and care and sorrow were flung to the winds. Dur- 
ing each interval of rest, refreshments of all sorts were handed 
round, and while the fair one cooled her lips with the grateful 
juice of the melon, the hunter of Kentucky quenched his thirst 
with ample draughts of well-tempered punch." ar He too de- 
scribes the racing and shooting at a mark, the tables heaped 
with food and the ready barrels of Old Monongahela. 

On the sod-house frontier soon to be. opened up beyond the 
Mississippi, dancing became as popular as it had been in the 
Ohio Valley. There was always a great scarcity of women for 
the holiday balls, and the young men would scour the prairies 
looking for partners. They would ride in to the dance with 
young girls or grandmothers, it little mattered, perched on the 
saddle behind them, calico dresses neatly tucked in, sunbonnets 
swinging in the wind. On one mid-century occasion no less than 
two thousand people gathered at Brownsville, Nebraska, for a 


Fourth of July barbecue and dance. The buffalo, venison, oxen, 
sheep, hogs, and pigs slaughtered were said to have been 
"enough to have fed the whole territory." Another time a New 
Year's dance at Lecompton, Kansas, found the ladies dancing on 
the open prairie in mackinaws and overshoes. Dinner, brought 
in by hunters, was served in tents pitched by a roaring fire. For 
a frolic at Blue Springs, Nebraska, a special committee caught 
one thousand pounds of catfish. 18 

They danced the scamperdown, double shuffle, western swing, 
and half-moon: 

Grab your honies, don't let *em fall, 
Shake your hoofs and balance all. 

A deep pull from the little brown jug; the men would swing 
their partners until they kicked the ceiling if there was any ceil- 
ing. Faster, faster, the old fiddler would sway over his precious 
instrument, and heavy boots stamp on the hard ground floor. 
Receptions, and assemblies, and cotillions were just over the hori- 
zon. This was still the frontier. Another swig from the little 
brown jug; call out the numbers: 

Ringtailed coons in the trees at play: 
Grab your pardners and all run away. 

Weddings and infares provided other bright spots in pioneer 
life. On the occasion of the former, the day usually started with 
the groom's friends escorting him to the bride's house, on horse- 
back, in solemn procession. But the moment the party came in 
sight of their destination, they would be off on a mad race to be 
the first to arrive. For custom decreed a prize for the winner a 
whisky bottle affectionately known as Black Betty. Once the 
ceremony itself was performed, this bottle circulated briskly, and 
the party took care of itself. 

The wedding guests had a friendly obligation, however. They 
put the newly married couple to bed, with the crude jokes and 
good-natured ribaldry typical of the frontier. Then, as the eve- 


ning grew gayer and the whisky flowed more freely "Where is 
Black Betty, I want to kiss her sweet lips" they would thought- 
fully send up drinks with uproarious shouted toasts: "Here's to 
the bride, thumping luck and big children." 

The horse-play was sometimes rough. Uninvited guests might 
try to cut off the manes and tails of the wedding party's horses; 
they sometimes attempted to set up a pair of horns on a pole 
near the house as a subtle reflection on the bride's chastity. To 
interrupt the ceremony just as the minister started to read the 
service by letting loose so noisy a serenade that he could not be 
heard, or even to try kidnapping the groom, was a popular sport 
The charivari or "shivaree," that noisy concert in which no instru- 
ment was more effective than a horseshoe and a sugar-kettle, in 
time became so regular a feature of frontier wedding celebra- 
tions that the bride's family had always to stand ready to buy 
obstreperous serenaders off with more liquor. 19 

The story is told that Lincoln once almost broke up a wedding 
party. He was not invited, perhaps as the result of some earlier 
feud, to a double ceremony in the Grigsby family, and he ar- 
ranged witi a confederate for a sensational revenge. When the 
grooms were escorted to their respective bridal chambers, they 
found themselves with the wrong brides. Lincoln then went on 
to add insult to injury by writing a scandalous version of the 
whole affair "The Chronicle of Reuben." The consequences are 
obscure: a renewed feud, a general fight, and Lincoln waving a 
triumphant whisky bottle over his head and shouting that he was 
"the big buck of the lick." 20 

The accounts of this incident may be embroidered, for nothing 
was more typical of the frontier than the telling of tall tales. At 
every frolic, as well as at trading-posts, about camp-fires, on the 
decks of flatboats, and at the village taverns, the pioneers whiled 
away hours with story and anecdote. In no other part of the 
country has talk played a larger r61e in popular diversion. There 
grew up in the West a wealth of legend and folklore, at once 
realistic and wildly exaggerated, which was American to the 


core. Stories of Daniel Boone, Kit Carson, Davy Crockett, or 
some even more mythical figure as Mike Fink, Paul Bunyan, or 
Jim Henry, are still a delight to an age far removed from that 
which gave birth to them. 

There were the traditional tales of mighty hunters, of wonder- 
ful marksmanship, of the great feats of the rivermen. A host of 
popular legends developed about "the ugly man" (Lincoln him- 
self could have filled this rdle) who became a western folk hero. 
It was related of Davy Crockett that his grin had such a paralyz- 
ing effect that he could bring down raccoons without either pow- 
der or shot: he merely grinned at the 'coon and it would fall at 
his feet. One day his grin failed to work. The raccoon appeared 
glued to the tree. But Davy finally discovered that it was his 
eyes rather than his ugliness that had failed him. There was no 
raccoon, merely an unusual knot in the oak-tree . . . and he had 
grinned all the bark off itl 

A story of the western plains, not of the forest, describes a part 
of the country where the atmosphere was so rarefied that the 
sound of one's voice would be thrown back from a mountain 
several hundred miles off. It took six hours for the echo to return. 
Making camp for the night, Jim Bridger would turn toward the 
mountain and shout at tie top of his voice, "Time to turn out!" 
He could then roll up in his blankets, confident that the echo 
would awaken him at daybreak. 21 

ANOTHER OUTLET valve for men and women who had so few 
chances to escape their loneliness was the camp-meeting. Its 
primary purpose was to work a spiritual regeneration among 
those who attended it, to point the path of salvation from the 
ungodly ways fostered by the rough life of the pioneer country. 
The Methodist circuit-riders warned of fire and brimstone for all 
those who indulged in the frontier amusements of dancing, card- 
playing, horse-racing, gambling, and drinking. But at the same 
time the camp-meeting was an occasion which often provided 


exciting entertainment The crowds, the intoxication of revivalist 
oratory, the hymn-singing, all contributed to an emotional release 
from the cares of everyday life which had every aspect of hearty 

"Vast numbers are there from curiosity and merely to enjoy 
the spectacle," wrote one observant visitor. "The young and the 
beautiful are there with mixed motives, which it were not best 
severely to scrutinize.** ** 

When a meeting was announced, the people would gather from 
miles around, many of them undertaking a several-days journey. 
The countryside would present the appearance of a general 
migration. From the more settled communities heavy ox carts 
carrying whole families would bump over the rough plank roads. 
Lonely men and women from isolated cabins in the depths of 
the forest threaded their way along trails seldom pierced by the 
light of the sun. At the appointed place, usually some clearing 
on the edge of the woods, near water, they would make camp. 
Tents were pitched, a platform built for the preachers, and 
sometimes benches set up for the huge audience which would 
crowd the enclosure. The meeting would last perhaps a week, 
with continual services. It was a gigantic community picnic. 

"Large fires of timber were kindled," reads the description of 
one such meeting, "which cast a new lustre on every object. The 
white tents gleamed in the glare. Over them the dusky woods 
formed a most romantic gloom, only the tall trunks of the first 
rank were distinctly visible, and these seemed so many members 
of a lofty charade. The illuminated camp lay on a declivity, and 
exposed a scene that suggested to my mind the moonlit gambols 
of beings known to us only through the fictions of credulous eyes. 
The greatest turmoil prevailed within the fence, where the in- 
mates were leaping and holding together with upward looks and 
extended arms. Around this busy mass, the crowd formed a 
thicker ring than the famous Macedonian phalanx; and among 
them a mixture of the exercised were interspersed. . * . The sub- 
limity of the music served to give an enchanting effect to the 


whole. ... It had been thought proper to place sentinels without 
the camp. Females were not allowed to pass into the woods 
after dark" 28 

The manifestations of the Holy Spirit were strange and won- 
drous as the shouting, gesticulating, hair-tearing revivalists 
warmed to their vehement attacks on the Devil and all his ways. 
'It was supposed that no less than three hundred fell like dead 
men in a mighty battle/' Peter Cartwright, a Methodist circuit- 
rider of wide fame, reports of one meeting in his autobiography; 
"and there was no calling of mourners, for they were strewed 
all over the camp ground: loud wailing went up to Heaven from 
sinners for mercy, and a general shout from the Christians, so 
that the noise was heard afar off." 24 Another witness tells of 
"twenty thousand persons tossed to and fro like the tumultuous 
waves of the sea in a storm, or swept down like trees of the 
forest under the blast of a wild tornado/* 25 

Nor was falling beneath the power of God the only hysterical 
response to the flaming oratory of the camp-meeting. Other ac- 
counts tell of the Holy Laugh and the Holy Dance, of people 
barking like a flock of spaniels, of great crowds uncontrollably 
seized by the jerks. "No matter whether they were saints or sin- 
ners/* Cartwright wrote another time, "they would be taken 
tinder a warm song or sermon, and seized with convulsive jerking 
all over, which they could not by any possibility avoid, and the 
more they resisted the more they jerked. ... I have seen more 
than five hundred persons jerking at one time in my large con- 
gregations." 26 

In bringing men and women together, especially young people, 
under such circumstances, the camp-meeting had its dangerous 
aspects because of the intense emotionalism it stirred up. The 
placing of sentinels about the ring of camp-fires was a common 
practice, but with all precautions there were many camp-meeting 
babies. William Herndon has a story of a young couple at a 
camp-meeting in the Lincoln country. "Slowly and gracefully 
they worked their way towards the centre," he writes, "singing, 


shouting, hugging and kissing, generally their own sex, until at 
last nearer and nearer they came. The centre of the altar was 
reached, and the two closed, with their arms around each other, 
the man singing and shouting at the top of his voice 

**l have my Jesus in my arms 

Sweet as honey, strong as hacon ham." 27 

Whether an active participant or an interested spectator, it is 
not difficult to understand why the frontiersman found the camp- 
meeting an exciting experience. A drunken spree at barbecue or 
log-rolling could hardly rival taking one's place on the "anxious 
bench," mingling one's hallelujahs with those of a thousand other 
frenzied converts, or joining in the Holy Dance as some inspired 
preacher called the tune. A revival was something for the pio- 
neer to look forward to as he swung his heavy ax to clear another 
half-acre or hoed at his stubborn cornpatch. Conversion might 
of course limit his other amusements, but it was not necessary, 
as he must often have thought on his exhausted journey home, 
to stay saved for very long. 


American people throughout the eastern parts of the country 
were enjoying very much the same recreations as they had in 
colonial days. The Revolution had marked a distinct break in 
many customs, especially for the wealthier classes, but old 
threads of activity were quickly picked up. Writing about 1821, 
Timothy Dwight singled out the principle amusements as "visit- 
ing, dancing, music, conversation, walking, riding, sailing, shoot- 
ing at a mark, draughts, chess, and unhappily in some of the 
larger towns, cards and dramatic exhibitions." * Social life had a 
relative simplicity, and popular diversions conformed to familiar 

But new winds were blowing. The turbulent, expansive years 
of the first half of the century were to usher in changes in recre- 
ation as far-reaching as those in any other department of the 
national life. The country was going through the first phase of 
its transformation from a simple agricultural community into a 
highly complex urban, society. New means of amusement had 
to be found to replace those from which increasingly large num- 
bers of persons were cut off by the very circumstance of city life. 
The rise of a working class imbued with the pervasive ideals of 
Jacksonian democracy created a demand for popular entertain- 
ment which had hardly been felt in colonial days. 

The trend toward urbanization and the growth of a factory 
population were to continue in later years at a greatly accelerated 
pace. It was the novelty of these developments, crowding people 
together in living conditions entirely new to America, that gave 



them their importance in this period. Between 1800 and 1850 the 
proportion of the population living in urban communities of more 
than 8,000 tripled, representing in the latter year twelve per cent 
of the total. Some of the little colonial towns had become real 
cities. In mid-century New York had a population of more 
than 500,000, Philadelphia of over 300,000, and there were six 
other cities with more than 100,000 each. 2 Still small by to-day's 
standards, they nevertheless gave rise to a serious problem. What 
was to be the recreation of the new urban democracy which 
could no longer look to rural sports and informal country pas- 
times for relaxation? Some substitute had to be found to meet a 
demand growing greater every year because of the indoor con- 
finement and monotonous routine of so much city work. 

^Democracy is too new a comer upon the earth," wrote a 
shrewd foreign observer, Michael Chevalier, in 1833, "to have 
been able as yet to organize its pleasures and amusements. In 
Europe, our pleasures are essentially exclusive, they are aristo- 
cratic like Europe itself. In this matter, then, as in politics, the 
American democracy has yet to create every thing fresh." s 

The answer to this challenge was the gradual growth of com- 
mercial amusements, the beginnings of what has now become a 
vast entertainment industry. But for many years during this 
difficult period of transition, recreation appears to have been 
more limited than at any other time in our history. The general 
shift from active to passive diversion did not make for a nor- 
mal, healthy adjustment, and not until after the Civil War was 
this balance redressed by the rise of organized sports. New 
forms of recreation, moreover, found all the moral forces of the 
age arrayed against them. Whatever their actual value as a re- 
lief from the tedium of everyday life, they generally stood con- 

A renewed emphasis upon the importance of work was one of 
the most telling repressive influences. The spirit of the times was 
expressed in the preamble of a New Hampshire law: "All young 
countries have much more occasion to encourage a spirit of in- 


dustry and application to business, than to countenance schemes 
of pleasure and amusement" And this attitude was strengthened 
and intensified by a revived Puritanism which again provided a 
moral sanction for the disapproval of recreation. It was in 1839, 
however reminiscent of 1639 it may seem, that public speakers 
everywhere were preaching the doctrine upheld by one promi- 
nent lecturer who sententiously declared, "We tolerate no drones 
in our hive. . . . The sweat-drops on the brow of honest toil are 
more precious than the jewels of a ducal coronet." 4 

The intolerance of the seventeenth century, rather than the 
liberalism of the eighteenth, swayed public opinion. It was the 
dark period of Victorian repression. For the recreational scene 
actually to broaden under these circumstances, as it eventually 
did, was proof of an underlying need on the part of the American 
democracy which could not permanently be left unanswered. It 
was the expression of an unconscious determination in the pur- 
suit of pleasure which had even stronger roots than Puritan 

THE OPPORTUNITY to develop the boundless resources of a con- 
tinent, the need to build up trade and industry in order to assert 
our economic as well as our political independence, afforded 
very real justification for a return to the gospel of work. Without 
our national response to this opportunity the material develop- 
ment of the country would have been substantially slowed up. 
But it was equally true that continual application to business, 
with increasing concern over its profits, greatly narrowed the 
horizon of the average American. He became obsessed with a 
mania for making money. Tn no country are the faces of the 
people furrowed with harder lines of care," wrote one sympa- 
thetic observer. T!n no country that I know is there so much hard, 
toilsome, unremitting labor: in none so little of the recreation and 
enjoyment of life. Work and worry eat out the heart of the 
people, and they die before their time. ... It is seldom that an 

Lithographed cover of a music sheet of 1836. Courtesy of the New York 
Historical Society. 

Dr. Rich's Institute for Physical Education 

About 1850. J. Clarence Davies Collection, Museum of the City of New York. 
A Picnic on the Wissahickon 

Engraving by Rawdon, Wright and Hatch after a drawing by William 
Croome. Graham's American Monthly Magazine, 1844. 


American retires from business to enjoy his fortune in comfort 
Money-making becomes a habit. He works because he has always 
worked, and knows no other way." 5 

The Almighty Dollar cast its long shadow over the land. With 
depressing unanimity the host of English travelers who examined 
American democracy in the 1830*s and 1840's found us too ab- 
sorbed in work's daily routine to recognize any other phase of 
life. Never has criticism on this score been more general or per- 
sistent. Frances Trollope, Basil Hall, Thomas Hamilton, Frances 
Wright, and Charles Dickens they all rang the changes on the 
same tune. Our only pleasure was business, our only amusement 
making money. Arriving at New Orleans at the time of that city's 
colorful Mardi Gras, Sir Charles Lyell breathed a sigh of relief 
to find at last some signs of gaiety in the United States. "From 
the time we landed in New England to this hour," he wrote, "we 
seemed to have been in a country where all, whether rich or poor, 
were laboring from morning till night, without ever indulging 
in a holiday." 6 

Frances Trollope's observations were colored by her snobbish 
scorn of the crudities of American life, but with all proper al- 
lowance for prejudice her repeated complaints of how dull she 
found this country carry conviction. "We are by no means as gay 
as our lively neighbors on the other side of the Channel," she 
wrote, "but compared with Americans, we are whirligigs and 
teetotums; every day is a holiday and every night a festival." She 
concluded that Americans must somehow not have the same 
need of being amused as other people "they may be the wiser 
for this, perhaps, but it makes them less agreeable to a looker- 
on." 7 

Dickens was greatly depressed by a point of view which not 
only left no time for normal recreation, but gave a businesslike 
efficiency to activity outside the counting-house as well as within 
it. Among the people he encountered at boarding-houses and 
hotels, in stage-coaches and on steamboats, there were always the 
same rush and hurry. We may look back upon life a century ago 


as having had infinite leisure, but it was already marked by 
quick drinks and quick lunches. The American meal-hour horri- 
fied Dickens: "No conversation, no laughter, no cheerfulness; 
no sociality, except in spitting; and that is done in silent fellow- 
ship round the stove, when the meal is over. Every man sits 
down, dull and languid; swallows his fare as if breakfasts, din- 
ners, and suppers, were necessities of nature never to be coupled 
with recreation or enjoyment; and having bolted his food in a 
gloomy silence bolts himself, in the same state/* 8 

Our English visitor wandered forth from his hotel to observe 
the habits of the frenetic dollar-chasers of New Yoik. "But how 
quiet the streets are! Are there no itinerant bands; no wind or 
stringed instruments? No, not one. By day are there no Punches, 
Fantocinne, Dancing Dogs, Jugglers, Conjurers, Orchestrinas, or 
even Barrel-organs? No, not one. Yes, I remember one, one 
barrel-organ and a dancing monkey, sportive by nature, but fast 
fading into a dull, lumpish monkey of the Utilitarian school. 
Beyond that, nothing lively; no, not so much as a white mouse 
in a twirling cage* 

"Are there no amusements? Yes, there is a lecture room across 
the way, from which that glare of light proceeds, and there may 
be evening service for the ladies there thrice a week, or oftener. 
For the young gentlemen, there is the counting-house, the store, 
the bar-room. . . ." 9 

THE MOKAL APPROVAL given this attitude served the same end as 
had Puritanism's support of the early colonial laws in detestation 
of idleness. The reawakening that succeeded the skepticism and 
apathy of the close of the eighteenth century made the period 
one of intense religious interest, and nowhere was it more 
strongly manifest than in its influence on recreation. A new gen- 
eration of spiritual leaders took up arms against any broadening 
whatsoever of the field of amusements. They preached the sinful- 
ness of idle pleasure with a fierce intolerance. Their prohibitions 


were most effective among those who actually had little chance 
to enjoy many diversions, again demonstrating the close relation- 
ship between reform and economic environment; but they af- 
fected all classes. The influence of the church largely determined 
the public attitude. 

The full force of religious disapproval was thrown against the 
struggling theatre. President Dwight of Yale flatly declared that 
"to indulge a taste for playgoing means nothing more nor less 
than the loss of that most valuable treasure the immortal soul." 10 
The church generally condemned commercial amusement, what- 
ever its form, as "the door to all the sinks of iniquity," an atti- 
tude clearly revealing its complete failure to realize that a people 
growing further away from the simpler pastimes of an agri- 
cultural civilization had to have some substitute for them. As 
late as 1844 Henry Ward Beecher singled out for attack, with a 
vitriolic bitterness reminiscent of Cotton Mather, the stage, the 
concert-hall, and the circus. He made no distinctions. Any one 
who pandered to the new taste for entertainment was a moral 
assassin. The fate awaiting this enemy of society was certain: "As 
borne on the blast thy guilty spirit whistles towards the gates of 
hell, the hideous shrieks of those whom thy hand hath destroyed, 
shall pierce theehelTs first welcome." X1 

The pulpit's wholesale denouncement of pleasure was more 
typical of New England, but other parts of the country also felt 
the heavy hand of puritan repression. The evangelical churches 
everywhere banned the race-course and all games of chance, 
forbade card-playing in whatever guise, and disapproved severely 
of dancing. Nineteenth-century Presbyterians, Baptists, and 
Methodists, gathering thousands of converts into their folds as 
they went south along the mountain ridges and then spread 
westward into the Mississippi Valley, reimposed many of the 
prohibitions of seventeenth-century Calvinists. In some sections 
the Middle West was to become more New England than New 
England itself. 

In these circumstances another phenomenon of seventeenth- 


century life was repeated in the growing towns and cities of 
nineteenth-century America. The saloon and grog-shop became 
more than ever the workingman's club as urban life cut him off 
from other emotional outlets. Heavy drinking was a widely preva- 
lent habit. It played a r61e fully as important as it had in colonial 
days, and had more serious consequences. It was the common 
belief of English visitors that a man could get drunk twice in 
America for sixpence and usually did. 12 

In their* efforts to suppress intemperance the reformers made 
no attempt to find a substitute for the saloon. Anne Royall once 
argued that establishment of theatres might be the means of sav- 
ing the people "from the effects of an evil which seems to 
threaten their morals with a total overthrow/' 1S but no one lis- 
tened. The church easily fell in with the attitude of the merchant- 
manufacturer class, whose sole objective was to get as much 
work as possible out of its employees. The theory here was that 
drinking was the result of idleness, and consequently long hours 
of labor should be maintained for the sake of the wage-earners* 
moral welfare. They should not be allowed time for anything 
else. Spokesmen of religion turned a deaf ear to labor's con- 
tention that the intolerable burden of a twelve- or fourteen-hour 
day compelled some "excitement fully proportioned to the de- 
pression," which under existing circumstances could be found 
only in drinking. They gave full support to the new order of in- 
dustrialists in upholding "the wholesome discipline of factory 

Nor was there any toleration of recreation on the one day in 
the week on which workers were free. The old issue of Sabbath 
observance was revived. At the close of the eighteenth century 
a marked weakening of Puritan restrictions had taken place. Even 
in Boston travelers reported that the townspeople had in great 
measure lost "that rigidity of manners and vigilant way of keep- 
ing Sunday" which had formerly characterized New England. 15 
But as the nineteenth century progressed, many of the old bans 
were reapplied. No sports or games were allowed on the Lord's 


Day, let alone public amusements. Travel was no longer per- 
mitted. In many states even the Government mails were stopped. 
Public opinion, if not actual laws, decreed church attendance as 
the only permissible Sunday activity. 

"In 1800," Emerson Davis wrote in mid-century, "good men 
slumbered over the desecration of the Sabbath. They have since 
awoke." 16 This simply meant that on this count the harsh rule of 
the Puritans was firmly refastened upon the country "all was 
solemn and drear. Laughter was considered irreverent.** 1T It has 
taken almost a century for Sunday bonds to become sufficiently 
relaxed to sanction normal recreation, 

Deprived of support from the more responsible elements of 
society because of the church's attitude, public entertainment 
often fell into the hands of those who on occasion did not hesi- 
tate to pander to the lowest order of popular taste. This in turn 
aroused further opposition to commercial amusements. The vi- 
cious circle continued until social leaders began to recognize the 
importance of recreation in the national life, accepting the fact 
that in what was becoming an urban society, it necessarily had to 
be organized, and often placed on a commercial basis. 

ANOTHER FACTOR serving at times to discourage the growth of 
amusements as such was a nation-wide cultural reawakening 
which affected all classes. The 1830's and 1840's were an age of 
intense activity along many lines. American thought was going 
through a period of ferment which was expressed by a keen and 
active interest in things of the mind and spirit. New concepts 
of democracy, of humanitarianism, of the brotherhood of man, 
were in the air. Among the factory workers there was often 
strong disapproval of the recreational use of even such little 
leisure as they commanded because of an unusual sense of civic 

When labor urged the reduction of the working-day from the 
prevailing twelve and fourteen hours to ten, it did not assert any 


claim for time to play. "All men have a just right, derived from 
their creator," a resolution of the Journeymen Carpenters of 
Philadelphia stated in 1827, "to have a sufficient time in each 
day for the cultivation of their mind and for self -improvement; 
Therefore, resolved, that we think ten hours industriously em- 
ployed are sufficient for a day's labor.** "Let the mechanic's labour 
be over when he has wrought ten or twelve hours in the long 
days of summer," reads another piece of propaganda, "and he 
will be able to return to his family in season, and with sufficient 
vigour, to pass some hours in the instruction of his children, or in 
the improvement of his own mind." 18 

With this strong feeling of the importance of self -education 
and widespread interest in intellectual matters, a great vogue 
developed for public lectures. The lyceum movement, bringing 
public speakers to every town throughout the country, spread 
rapidly. It was started in 1826. Five years later a national or- 
ganization was formed with some nine hundred local lyceums. 19 
They provided a platform for speakers on every conceivable 
topic history, philosophy, and geology; women's rights, prison 
reform, insane asylums; temperance and abolition. Sir Charles 
Lyell was astounded in the 1840's to find the general public 
rushing to the lecture as they might formerly have done to a 
play; Philip Hone observed with amazement that in New York 
the craze had left the theatres flat on their backs. 20 

Many of our foreign visitors spoke of the worJdngmen audi- 
ences at these lectures. They were especially noted in New 
England, and one of the most striking instances of cultural en- 
thusiasm was found at the cotton-mills of Lowell, Massachusetts. 
Its atmosphere was far from typical of most manufacturing 
towns, and even here the roseate picture drawn by foreigners 
was greatly exaggerated. Nevertheless, the great majority of the 
workers were self-respecting country girls, serious and intelligent. 
Their attitude may be taken as a symbol of the zest for knowl- 

In Lowell reading is the only recreation," wrote Michael 


Chevalier; 21 Professor Peabody of Harvard found his lecture- 
room crowded with factory operatives who laid aside their books 
only to take notes on his talk; 22 and Dickens, visiting the city in 
1842, was impressed by three facts: "Firstly, there is a joint stock 
piano in a great many of the boarding houses. Secondly, nearly 
all the young people subscribe to circulating libraries. Thirdly, 
they have got among themselves a periodical called The Lowell 
Offering." 2S This publication exuded the factory town's lofty spirit 
There was the story of Abby's first year in the mills: "She grati- 
fied no feeling but a newly awakened desire for mental improve- 
ment, and spent her leisure hours in reading useful books." 24 

In many instances the public crowded the lecture-hall with 
less elevated motives than self -education. George Combe, lec- 
turing on the popular fad of phrenology, freely admitted that 
"entertainment and excitement, as much as instruction," drew 
the crowds that nightly attended his lectures in Boston. 25 And 
there was even less pretense of culture in the audiences that 
gathered to hear the ever-popular spiritualists, hypnotists, mes- 
merists, psychometrists, hydropathists. ... A woman speaker ad- 
vertised a lecture on animal magnetism in which she would 
painlessly draw die teeth of any person who so desired, and a lec- 
turer on mesmerism promised to operate on the entire audience 
and produce a variety of results in trance and catalepsy. This 
was clearly entertainment as much as concert-hall or theatre. 
Philip Hone considered it of an even lower order, but commented 
philosophically, "the people will be amused." 

Nevertheless the serious purpose that lay behind this vogue for 
lectures was their important feature. It reflected the idealistic 
belief that in a democracy all citizens should be able to take an 
intelligent part in the conduct of government. They should be 
educated to fulfil their social obligations. Self -improvement was 
not a selfish goal: it was a responsibility of citizenship. In the 
awakening desire of democracy to play a full r61e in public 
affairs, the need for a wide diffusion of knowledge seemed 


In considering popular lectures, in this or other periods, it is 
never possible to draw a hard and fast line between education 
and entertainment In most cases both elements were present 
The lecture craze of the 1840*5, however, had the full support 
of all those who felt it was sinful to use leisure solely for enjoy- 
ment. For that reason it was an important phenomenon both in 
itself and because of its retarding influence on the growth of 
amusements which could make no cultural claims. 

THE STATUS of women in the social life of the nineteenth century 
also had a very definite bearing on recreation. Prevailing con- 
cepts of the proper relationship to be maintained between the 
sexes were a barrier which, apart from all other considerations, 
prevented the natural development of many forms of diversion. 
They gave an atmosphere of artificial restraint to ordinary social 
functions. For long they made it almost impossible for men 
and women to enjoy together any outdoor activities. And it was 
not only that there was less freedom in social intercourse than 
there is to-day. Popular ideas on the delicacy of females a basic 
canon of the mid-nineteenth century and an almost morbid 
prudery meant a more restricted life for women than in the 
eighteenth century. In colonial days they had been able to enter 
"far more fully into both the work and the recreation of men. 
They took part in the farm festivals and holiday celebrations; 
they enjoyed as spectators if not as actual participants whatever 
amusements were available. But now women were more and 
more condemned to a life separate and apart. 
. It was a man's world, with its tremendous emphasis on work 
and getting ahead. Young people were allowed great liberty. 
"They dance, sing, walk and run in sleighs together, by sunshine 
and moonshine," wrote Frances Wright, "without the occurrence 
or even the apprehension of any impropriety." 26 But this dis- 
pensation was short-lived. "Once married," another contempo- 
rary observer reported, "the young lady entirely changes her 


habits. Farewell gaiety and frivolity." 2T Whatever their position 
in society, women were expected to devote themselves wholly 
to the duties of domestic life. Visitors from abroad often singled 
this out as a bizarre and unexpected aspect of the American 
scene. The sparkling Fanny Kemble found it impossible to con- 
form to such a narrow tradition after her own American mar- 
riage. Frances Trollope was incensed at an attitude which so 
closely restrained those of her sex. 

If they had any leisure, the ladies took up embroidery, paint- 
ing on glass or china, and waxworkwith commendable perse- 
verance and devastating results. But they kept indoors, and 
everything else, including health, was sacrificed to incredible stand- 
ards of proper female decorum. Viewing the results, Thomas 
Hamilton mourned that "at one or two-and-twenty, the bloom of 
an American lady is gone, and the more substantial materials of 
beauty follow soon after. At thirty the whole fabric is in decay, 
and nothing remains but the tradition of former conquests/* 2S 
Delicacy became the hall-mark of gentility, the sign and symbol 
(as the Chinese mandarin's long finger-nails) of freedom from 
manual labor. It was not, indeed, a general characteristic. By far 
the larger number of women could not afford delicacy: their 
household work would not permit it. But it was the goal toward 
which they all aspired, and the dominant male encouraged it. It 
contributed to his own sense of importance and established social 

The few attempts that were made to persuade women to take 
outdoor recreation illustrate this general attitude even more 
pointedly. In mid-century there was a revival of skating which 
brought out thousands to country ponds and city rinks. During 
twenty-seven days of good ice in one season, over two hundred 
thousand skaters were estimated to have visited the lakes of New 
York's new Central Park; excursion trains daily carried from a 
thousand to fifteen hundred Boston enthusiasts to Jamaica 
Pond. 29 It was urged as a suitable sport for both sexes. But the 
female skater was advised in one such appeal to take fast hold 

A Family Party Playing at Fox and Geese 

Drawing by Winslow Homer. Ballou's Pictorial Drawing-Room 
Companion, 1857. 

The Dance after the Husking 
Harper's Weekly, 1858. 


o the coat tails of her gentleman partner, for then, "if he was 
a dextrous glider, and she maintained a firm position, a gay time 
she could have of it enjoying all the pleasure without incurring 
any of the fatigue of the exercise." 30 

One English visitor who greatly missed feminine society as he 
traveled about America, Captain Basil Hall, reported sadly that 
he had positively never once seen "anything approaching within 
many degrees to what we should call a flirtation/ 7 His lively wife 
confirmed his impression that there was "a great separation be- 
tween the ladies and gentlemen in society here." They found 
few women at the theatre in New York or at the race-track in 
Charleston; even at dances, hardly possible without some recog- 
nition of females, the two sexes "appeared to be entire strangers 
to each other." At a country fair at Brighton, Massachusetts, only 
nine women were counted in a crowd of several thousand. Cap- 
tain Hall heard some music and rushed excitedly to the spot. 
"What was there? four men dancing a reel." 81 

He was taken to task, however, by a dissenting English ob- 
server for the conclusions he drew from this incident. James 
Stuart explained the absence of women at the Brighton Fair. 
"For very obvious reasons," he pointed out quietly, "it would 
be reckoned a breach of delicacy in Britain for ladies to attend 
cattle-shows." 82 

The prudery of the period to which Queen Victoria has lent 
her unblemished name may be interpreted as both cause and 
consequence of this failure of men and women to associate more 
naturally in their everyday life. When modesty and decorum 
were carried to such lengths that an English book of etiquette 
adapted for publication in the United States could state "that, 
in America, female delicacy has become morbid," 88 one could 
hardly expect society to be as lively and gay as it had once been. 
It is not necessary to take overseriously such tales as Captain 
Marryat's account of his visit to the home of Edward Everett, 
where he found a statue of the Apollo Belvidere carefully draped 
and the legs of the piano "in modest little trousers, with frills at 


the bottom of them." S4 One may largely discount Mrs. Trollope's 
amazing stories o flounces painted on immodest sign-post milk- 
maids, the ostracism of a man who used the word "corset" in 
mixed company, and the consternation of tihe young girl in a 
boarding-house who, unexpectedly encountering a member of 
the other sex, ran from the room screaming "A man! A manl A 
man 35 P Nevertheless the artificial restraints growing out of such 
prudishness had a depressing effect. Men could not help feeling 
more at ease when alone with other men. Recreation lost some- 
thing which only the participation of women could give it 

THESE WERE the influences which served to make the American 
scene so dull in the first half of the nineteenth century. Serious- 
ness of purpose was heightened by strong religious feeling; the 
average man locked himself in his office and his wife in his home. 
But the forces let loose by the growth of cities and the rise of a 
new working class could not be withstood. The demand of the 
urban democracy for amusements to take the place of the rural 
pastimes they could no longer enjoy was too insistent. Mrs. 
Trollope notwithstanding, the American people had the same 
need for being amused as the people of any other nation. The 
development of new forms of entertainment could not be per- 
manently stayed for all the prejudice and opposition of those 
social forces which disapproved of them. 

So it was that this period of repression was actually marked 
by the beginning and gradual expansion of popular amusements 
which have ever since played an increasingly important part in 
our recreational life. The first half of the nineteenth century 
witnessed the growth of the theatre as entertainment reaching 
out to all classes of people. It saw the beginnings of variety, 
minstrel shows, and the circus; the establishment of amusement 
parks, public dance-halls, concert-saloons and beer-gardens; a 
revival of horse-racing and the rise of other spectator sports. By 
the Civil War the nation was in the midst of those far-reaching 


changes in the recreational scene which were a natural corollary 
of the broader social changes through which it was passing. 

The new amusements may not have been as healthful and in- 
nocent as those they replaced. They were generally something 
to be watched rather than enjoyed through active participation. 
But in opposing them so indiscriminately the confused reformers 
of the day were combating something essential for a society 
shaped by nineteenth-century industrialism. Despite prejudice 
and opposition from so many quarters, a new America, a fum- 
bling, often inept democracy, was feeling its way toward a 
fuller, more satisfying life for the masses of its people. 


of the day, the theatre was forging steadily ahead after 1800. 
It was attempting to establish itself by pleasing all classes, and 
with this end in view the playhouses of the period welcomed 
everything on their hospitable stages with delightful indiscrimi- 
nation. A century ago the same house might advertise Junius 
Brutus Booth in Hamlet on one night, the "Original, Aboriginal, 
Erratic, Operatic, Semi-Civilized and Demi-Savage Extravaganza 
of Pocohontas" on the next, and on the third an equestrian melo- 
drama with a cast of circus performers playing on horseback. A 
single evening often produced almost as varied theatrical fare, 
Macbeth, a daring French ballet, and perhaps such a popular and 
rowdy farce as My Young Wife and the Old Umbrella, making 
up the program. The theatre, that is, was a democratic institution, 
playing a r&le which in later years it largely surrendered, first to 
the vaudeville stage and then to the moving picture. 

The trend was steadily away from Shakespeare and toward 
more farce and variety. But the function of the theatre before the 
days of vaudeville, let alone those of the movies, made this nat- 
ural. "The rapid increase in population in newly formed cities," 
wrote an observant visiting actor, William Davidge, "produces a 
style of patrons whose habits and associations afford no oppor- 
tunity for the cultivation of the arts." * When the craze for lectures 
in the 1840's drew off the theatre's more sophisticated patrons, 
there was even greater need to meet the populace's demand for 
undiluted entertainment "Opera and burlesque, the melodrama 
and the ballet," sighed one critic, "have literally swallowed up the 



legitimate drama. . . . We are not a theatrical people." 2 But this 
was a prejudiced view. In its growth and development in these 
years the theatre was merely reflecting those diverse and contra- 
dictory impulses which animated American democracy in its 
awkward age. 

UPON THEIR BETUBN from exile after the Revolution, the English 
actors who had introduced the theatre to America struggled 
against heavy odds. There was always puritanic prejudice, but 
for a time colonial traditions also led to the theatre's being vigor- 
ously attacked as an aristocratic, un-American institution. It was 
declared an enemy of true republican principles, a foe to democ- 
racy. The giddy ideas of the stage could not be reconciled with 
the virtue which was the true basis of the freedom so lately won 
on revolutionary battlefields. And it undermined public morals. 
"At present," shouted an irate speaker in the Pennsylvania legis- 
lature, ^play-writers are held at liberty, when they wish to throw 
their audiences into fits of laughter, to make a smutty joke, throw 
the ladies into confusion, and give the jessamies a chance of 
tittering to show their teeth" * 

Nevertheless the theatre quickly gained a foothold. It could 
not hope to win full popular approval with the church thunder- 
ing against it as the Devil's workshop, but before the close of 
the eighteenth century it had at least broken through official 
prohibitions which might have completely barred it. After long 
debate the battle may fairly be said to have been won when 
the newly built Chestnut Street Theatre opened in Philadelphia 
in 1794 with the legend carved over its door, The Eagle Suffers 
Little Birds to Sing." In the meantime the old John Street 
Theatre, soon to be replaced by the first Park Theatre, had won 
a popular following in New York, and after furtive ventures into 
the dangerous territory of Boston under the guise of moral lec- 
tures, the theatre was even admitted within the sacred precincts 
of Puritanism. 4 


For some two decades these three cities were almost the only 
ones supporting the stage, and in each instance a single play- 
house dominated the scene. Only gradually was the theatre able 
to extend its scope and become a national institution. 

Albany had a surprisingly long theatrical tradition, John Ber- 
nard managing the company there at the opening of the nine- 
teenth century. Near-by Rochester was hardly as hospitable. "It 
is really astonishing to think that the trustees of so respectable a 
village,'* its newspaper declared in 1828, "should permit such a 
disorderly place as the theatre." In New England we find a troupe 
of Boston players visiting Salem in 1792, but its theatre lan- 
guished and died, for the townspeople "found it a much more 
profitable mode of spending their time and money, to hear lec- 
tures on interesting and useful subjects." James Silk Buckingham 
reported a theatre as far afield as Bangor, Maine, in 1840, com- 
menting, however, that as in all provincial towns it was not at- 
tended by the better class of people. 5 

The South was far more receptive, as it had been in colonial 
days. Before there were any real playhouses in New England 
outside of Boston, theatres had been established in all the prin- 
cipal southern cities from Baltimore to Savannah. The West too 
was cordial. Soon after the War of 1812 a company of players 
brought together by Samuel Drake, an English actor who had 
been playing with Bernard's company in Albany, made its ad- 
venturous way to Kentucky by wagon and flatboat Soon what 
was still the pioneer country of trans-Appalachia was dotted with 
theatre towns. 6 

The theatrical circuit by the fourth decade of the century is 
illustrated by the tour of Tyrone Power, the Irish comedian. 
From his first engagement at the Park in New York, now the 
country's amusement capital with half a dozen playhouses, he 
went to Philadelphia, where he played at the Chestnut Street 
and the Walnut Street. Then he went to the Tremont in Boston. 
Starting on a southern tour, he visited Baltimore, Washington, 
Alexandria, Charleston, Savannah, and Columbus. There were 


engagements also at New Orleans, Mobile, and Natchez, and 
back again in the North somewhat later, at Albany/ These were 
the more accessible theatres. Those in St. Louis and Cincinnati 
were also important, and before mid-century the roster included 
cities as far west as Dubuque, Iowa. In all, more than fifty estab- 
lished stock companies scattered throughout the country marked 
the theatre's half -century advance. 8 

An outstanding characteristic of the playhouses of this period, 
in contrast to theatres of the legitimate stage in the twentieth 
century, was their immense size. The second Park Theatre in 
New York, opening in 1821, provided accommodations in its 
great yawning pit, three tiers of boxes, and top gallery for 2,500 
persons; the Bowery, bursting upon a startled world a few years 
later with all the magnificence of gas-lights, held 3,500; and in 
another decade the Broadway advertised seats for 4,000. Theatres 
in other cities were not quite as big as these New York houses, 
but they too were far larger than the average to-day. 9 

They were large because of the theatre's appeal to the masses, 
and, once built, their very size forced them to cater more and 
more to the general public. The amusement business acted on the 
principle of volume production at a low cost. When the first 
Park Theatre opened at the close of the eighteenth century, ad- 
mission prices were $2.00 in the boxes, $1.50 in the pit, and $1.00 
in the gallery. Before the second Park closed its doors fifty years 
later, these prices had been reduced to 75 cents, 50 cents, and 
S7K cents. The more general scale in the 1840's was a 50-cent top 
and gallery seats for 12& cents; 10 

Under these conditions the theatre could not in any sense con- 
stitute the comparatively select entertainment it had been in 
colonial days and has subsequently become again through the 
growth of other forms of commercial amusement. It was taken 
over by "our sovereigns" as the conservatives now fearfully des- 
ignated those whom they had formerly complacently dismissed 
as "the people of no importance" in a spirit of militant democ- 
racy. Writing of the theatres even in conservative Philadelphia, 


an English traveler pointedly observed that they were "not much 
frequented by the more opulent and intelligent classes, but sus- 
tained by the middle and humbler ranks."* 1 Society might re- 
main ensconced in the boxes, where "elegant and well-dressed 
females" could look disdainfully down on the crowd below, but it 
was the common man who ruled the show. At Mitchell's Olympic 
in New York the "pit was exclusively reserved every Saturday 
afternoon for newsboys and butcher-boys. 12 

The theatre's democratic appeal is further illustrated by the 
popular interest shown in favorite actors, especially by the ex- 
citement occasioned when some player offended the public. The 
most sensational instance of this was the famous Astor Place 
riot in 1849, which grew out of the bitter feud between Charles 
Macready, the English tragedian, and Edwin Forrest, favorite 
of the American stage. The populace translated a professional 
quarrel in terms of English aristocracy versus American democ- 
racy, rallying to Forrest's defense in behalf of their "almighty 
independence." New York was plastered with posters calling 
upon worldngmen to decide the issue: *We advocate no violence, 
but lawful rights." Influenced by such appeals, a Bowery mob 
stormed the theatre where Macready was playing; the troops 
were called out to restore order, and before the affair ended, 
twenty-two persons had been killed and a large number wounded. 13 

The size of the buildings and the character of the audiences 
combined to make the early nineteenth-century theatre a some- 
what appalling place according to modern standards. It had few 
of the comforts to which the polite audiences of to-day are ac- 
customed. Women stayed away quite as much on these grounds 
as from moral prejudice. Nor could one always be certain that 
the performance would be allowed to proceed in peace. Although 
Astor Place riots might be exceptional, special police had always 
to be on hand to preserve order. Theatre-going a century ago 
had about it certain adventurous aspects which are now lost. 

The cold was a great discomfort in winter. Wood-burning 
stoves in foyers could not adequately heat such huge, barnlike 


structures, and though box-holders still brought their own char- 
coal foot-warmers and the entire audience kept on coats and 
hats, there was no really satisfactory way of keeping comfort- 
able. The audience slowly congealed, and the actors almost 
literally froze. The various lighting systems were also a hazard. 
Candles dripped and sputtered; oil lamps hung in immense chan- 
deliers smoked unmercifully; and when gas-lights were intro- 
duced, it was long before they became anywhere nearly satisfac- 
tory. Curtains and scenery were constantly catching on fire, and 
theatres burned down with distressing regularity thirty-three 
were wholly or partially destroyed by fire, including the Park 
and the Chestnut Street, between 1798 and 1852. The old Bowery 
burned down no less than four times in seventeen years. The 
worst conflagration of the period was the burning of the theatre 
in Richmond, Virginia, in 1811 with the loss of some seventy 
lives a catastrophe interpreted by the pious as a judgment of 

There were no really comfortable seats anywhere in the house. 
The boxes were like pens for beasts," reads a contemporary 
description of the Park 15 The benches with which they were 
fitted were no more than scantily upholstered boards with nar- 
row, shoulder-high backs, and they were so closely crowded to- 
gether that their occupants could hardly move. Mrs. Trollope 
has a lively description of the gentlemen trying to get comfort- 
able. Their postures were "perfectly indescribable,** she wrote; 
and then added somewhat cryptically, Tieels higher than the 
head, the entire rear of the person presented to the audience. 9 * 
It was also this observant visitor who noted a lady in a box at the 
Chatham in New York, "performing the most maternal office 

The pit was far worse than the boxes, with its backless benches 
set in serried rows on the rough, unswept floor. Women were not 
generally allowed in this section. What is now considered the 
choice part of the theatre would be crowded with a conglomerate 
mass of men who left on their hats, took off their coats, and 


made themselves at home with complete disregard of the more 
polite amenities. The habit of standing on the benches and spit- 
ting into the boxes or on the stage was deprecated, a writer in 
the New "fork Herald satirically approving the custom at Niblo's, 
where a gentleman could place his hat on the floor and have it 
serve "as a spittoon for three men behind him, who ingeniously 
spit over each other's shoulders." 17 The audience moved about 
freely, there was a constant cracking and crunching of peanuts, 
and a rank odor of onions and whisky rose like a miasmic cloud. 
"The place was pervaded by evil smells," the description of the 
Park states, "and not uncommonly in the midst of a performance, 
rats ran out of the holes in the floor and across into the or- 
chestra."* 8 

The top gallery was shared by toughs, Negroes, and prosti- 
tutes. Their sections were railed off, and to add to the con- 
geniality of the surroundings there was usually an adjacent bar. 
Approval or disapproval of the play was most vociferously ex- 
pressed in these upper reaches of the theatre. In his letters to 
the Morning Chronicle at the opening of the century, Washing- 
ton Irving commented feelingly on the gallery barrage of apples, 
nuts, and gingerbread, and its continual stamping, roaring, hiss- 
ing, and whistling; 19 The police kept what order they could, but 
in the more popular houses it was a difficult task especially 
when some insulted actor broke off his lines to step to the front 
of the stage and tell "the dirty blackguards" just what lie thought 
of them. 20 

Conditions in what was commonly called the "third tier" were 
in part responsible for the continued opposition of church-goers 
to the stage. They were no less condemned by the better man- 
agers. William Dunlap actor, manager, playwright, historian 
vehemently protested when the Federal Street Theatre in Boston 
allotted this special section of the theatre to "the unfortunate 
females," as he gallantly characterized them, "who have been the 
victims of seduction." 21 With almost puritan restraint Noah 
Miller Ludlow strictly barred both liquor and prostitutes from 

A Society Audience at the Park Theatre, New York 

Water-color by John Searle, November, 1822. Courtesy of the New York 
Historical Society. 


his theatre in St. Louis. 22 Edmund Simpson made the same ex- 
periment in New York but lost so considerable a part of his 
clientele that he had to restore to the third tier its privileges. 

The newspapers often took occasion to condemn these cus- 
toms, but their disapproval was aimed at the ladies* display of 
"their meretricious attractions, before the very faces of the chaste 
part of the audience," rather than at their presence in the theatre. 
In an editorial on September 19, 1838, the New Yorfc Herdd 
reported that eighty-three of "the most profligate and abandoned 
women that ever disgraced humanity" had been freely mingling 
the night before with the virtuous and respectable at the Park. 
It urged the citizens of New York not to take their wives and 
daughters to this theatre. It was a disgrace to society. The man- 
agement could hope to win back popular favor only "by con- 
structing a separate entrance for the abandoned of the sex." ** 

In the smaller towns, conditions differed very markedly from 
those in the large cities. Their theatres could not expect patron- 
age comparable to that in the more sophisticated urban com- 
munities, and circumstances often compelled the staging of 
performances with crude, makeshift scenery which made heroic 
demands upon the ingenuity and imagination of both cast and 
audience. An old warehouse or barn might be temporarily con- 
verted into a theatre by the erection of a stage, installation of 
some benches, and provision of a few makeshift properties and 
an improvised curtain. Often a shop or a tavern dining-room 
served even more informally for strolling players. Joseph Jeffer- 
son, barnstorming through Illinois in its pioneer days, described 
one performance in an old barn where moonlight and candles 
provided a dramatic atmosphere for the production of The 
Spectre Bridegroom. Another time his company built its own 
theatre a shaky structure with "the appearance of a large dry- 
goods box with a roof /* A young lawyer named Abraham Lincoln 
defended the players on this occasion against the town's attempt 
to impose an exorbitant license fee. 24 

Traveling players on the western circuit experienced one of 


their greatest difficulties in finding the supers necessary for a 
chorus. Ludlow tells of an early performance of Sheridan's 
Pizarro before an audience of four hundred keel-boat men and 
foundry workers in Pittsburgh at which the ceremony of the 
Virgins of the Sun presented an acute problem. Pittsburgh of- 
fered no virgins Ludlow carefully explains that of course he 
means theatrical virgins and it finally became necessary to fall 
back on an old Irish cleaning woman and the property man. They 
same on the stage draped in cotton gowns and gauze veils, and 
they were doing very well indeed until a piteous groan came 
from the audience, *Oh! what virgins!" There was an immediate 
outburst The play could not go on until the manager stepped 
to the front of the stage and rebuked the audience for insulting 
actors who had come so many miles to entertain them. 25 

Further brilliant inspiration in providing supers is related by 
Sol Smith, another pioneer of the western circuit who formed a 
partnership with Ludlow. Again it was Pizarro, and twenty-four 
Creek Indians were engaged to play the parts of the Peruvian 
soldiery. They were given 50 cents apiece and a glass of whisky 
unf ortunately, paid in advance. When their cue was given, the 
Indians broke into a war-dance with the greatest enthusiasm. 
As they leapt about the stage brandishing tomahawks and yell- 
ing at the top of their voices, the frightened virgins of the cast 
fled precipitancy to their dressing-room. The Indians had driven 
every one off the stage and demolished the Temple of the Sun 
before they could be quieted down. 26 

EXCEPT in a few of the houses in the larger cities, the stock com- 
panies making up the American theatre were for the most part 
composed of casual collections of actors and actresses whose 
histrionic deficiencies appear to have been monumental. They 
seldom knew their parts completely, although the frequent 
changes of plays and scant rehearsals provided some excuse for 
this; they were as apt as not to disregard all stage business; and 


in keeping with a memorable tradition of the dramatic profes- 
sion they often came on quite drunk. The diverting journal of 
Hany Watkins, a strolling player of the 1850's, reports that after 
reading his part over three or four times, he often went on stage 
knowing as much as any one in the cast. Another journal entry 
speaks of "winging a part," or going on in complete ignorance 
of it. Drunkenness often led to dramatic quarrels. There was the 
occasion in Louisville, also related by Watkins, when the leading 
lady chased one of the actors off the stage with a spear. When he 
tried to return, she renewed the attack with a screw-driver, 
dramatically screaming, Tou son of a bitch, die!** 27 

The theatre was really sustained by a handful of stars who 
played engagements of varying lengths in the eastern cities and 
then took to the road. They completely dominated the stage. 
Often there was barely time for a rehearsal with the local stock 
companies which supported them, and the star went blithely 
ahead almost regardless of other members of the cast. *Tm not 
much of a judge," commented one member of a Philadelphia 
audience at a performance of King Lear by James Wallack, **but 
I should think he was a damned fine actor for he pkyed this 
piece all by himself." 2S 

In the first decades of the century these stars were primarily 
English actors: George Frederick Cooke, Edmund Kean, the elder 
Charles Mathews, Charles Kemble and the delightful Fanny 
Kemble, William Charles Macready, and Junius Brutus Booth. 
Only very slowly did American actors begin to rival them. But 
by mid-century native talent had won enthusiastic recognition. 
The melodramatic genius of Edwin Forrest made him the coun- 
try's foremost tragedian, James H. Hackett swung into popular 
favor with his comic Yankee r&les, and the American-born Edwin 
Booth was starting on his memorable career. The entire country 
was immensely proud of Charlotte Cushman, an actress whose 
emotional power carried her to dramatic heights unsealed by her 
contemporaries. There were others: Henry Pkcide, John Gilbert, 
E. L. Davenport, William Warren, Jr., James E. Murdoch, the 


young Joseph Jefferson. ... A theatrical tradition was being firmly 

The temperamental eccentricities of many of the stars, their 
arrogance, their frequent drinking, their disregard of conventions, 
clothed them with a fatal fascination for the theatre-going pub- 
lic. But these habits also brought down on their heads the horri- 
fied attacks of all custodians of public morals. The stars gave the 
theatre its artistic standing, but they also made far more difficult 
the slow process of winning approval for the theatre in the 
country at large. 

Cooke was an unregenerate drunkard; Kean was involved in 
scandals which finally led to his being hissed off the stage; the 
records of Forrest's unsavory divorce case were spread over the 
pages of the country's newspapers; and the drunken brawls of 
Junius Brutus Booth, the preludes to his repeated fits of insanity, 
won hfrn nationwide notoriety. 

Booth's managers were at times compelled to resort to every 
possible stratagem to get him on the stage in a reasonably sober 
condition. They would take him out for long carriage drives just 
before a performance, lock him in his hotel room, or dose him 
with vinegar. When he escaped their vigilance, there was no 
telling what might happen. Sometimes he would stagger through 
his part, his voice hardly audible; at other times he would give a 
brilliant performance which would bring down the house. On 
one occasion he could not be found. A thorough search of the 
city's bars finally led to his discovery, very drunk, a good half- 
hour after the curtain should have gone up. The audience was 
going wild. Booth rushed on the stage, shaking an infuriated 
fist at the galleries. "Shut up!" he yelled. "You shut up out there 
and in ten minutes 111 give you the god-damnedest King Lear 
you ever saw in your life!" The story is that he did, and a de- 
lighted audience was with hfm from his opening line. 29 

The plays necessarily conformed to the taste of a democratic 
audience. Shakespeare was the favorite vehicle of the stars they 
would condescend to play few other parts and the theatre-going 


public appears to have hugely enjoyed the dramatic and fervid 
oratory, "the rant and cant," which marked their acting of the 
great tragedies. It was an age of oratory, of theatricalism. The 
actors were the rivals of Clay, Calhoun, and Webster, and they 
had to outdo them at their own trade. It must have been an 
experience to see and hear Forrest as King Lear. "Played it, Sir? 
Played it?" this redoubtable actor exclaimed when complimented 
on how he had acted the r61e. "By God, I am King Lear." 30 But 
while Shakespeare was a great drawing-card among all classes, 
the public demanded above all else change and variety. Pro- 
grams were shifted so frequently, and so many different plays 
were given, that when an entire season's repertoire is consid- 
ered, Shakespearean drama did not actually fill a very large 

A single theatre might present more than a hundred different 
plays in one season (the St. Louis theatre gave no less than 
one hundred and fifty-seven in the season of 1839), and few of 
them would have as many as three or four performances. The 
bill changed almost every night. Under such circumstances 
sixty-five performances of Shakespeare in Philadelphia's three 
theatres during the season of 1835 far exceeded performances of 
plays by any other single dramatist. Eighty-three productions of 
Richard III over an eight-year period made it the most fre- 
quently presented of all dramas. When Forrest actually played 
Macbeth for twenty consecutive nights at a New York theatre 
in 1853, he set up a phenomenal record. 81 

The public enjoyed the stars in these roles, but the domina- 
tion of the individual actor is responsible for the overemphasis 
always placed on the Shakespearean tradition. The more general 
run of plays provides a clearer indication of popular taste. Hun- 
dreds of thoroughly second-rate comedies, farces, and melo- 
dramas, now happily forgotten, innumerable musical shows, ex- 
travaganzas, and burlesques, were the theatre's real stock in 
trade. There were plays hastily adapted from novel or story, 
crudely concocted by managers or actors for a single perform- 


ance. Watkins tells of writing a five-act drama in eight days 
"the last two days I suffered a great deal of pain." 82 

Even when Shakespeare was presented, the principal play did 
not stand alone. Other entertainment was interpolated between 
the acts specialty dances, popular music, jugglers, acrobats, or 
even trained animals. And the whole performance invariably 
concluded with a farce. As the Prince of Denmark wandered off 
the stage, the clown came on; the echo of Othello's threats was 
a comic song; and Lady Macbeth washed her frenzied hands 
only to provide the cue for a French danseuse. When the Hal- 
lams had invaded New England almost a century earlier, their 
Shakespearean performance had concluded at ten-thirty so that 
"every spectator may go home at a sober hour, and reflect upon 
what he has seen." Not so these audiences of the new democ- 
racy. They did not want to be kept awake pondering over Ham- 
let's soliloquies or Desdemona's wrongs. They couldn't take their 
Shakespeare straight; they demanded a chaser. 

Booth played Hamlet at the Boston Museum in a program also 
including Miss Avila and Master Phillipa in a Pas Hongrois and 
the new farce Village Gossip. A performance of Much Ado about 
Nothing with Clare Fisher was followed by a musical farce in 
which the leading lady returned to sing "Oh! Brave Rub a Dub." 
Romeo and Juliet, with a comic clog-dance as an entr'acte, was 
followed on occasion by the double bill of Oh! Hush and The 
Good Looking Fellow. A performance of Richelieu with Edwin 
Forrest was enlivened by a "grand pas de deux" and a "national 
descriptive melange" between acts, the performance then closing 
with The Double Bedded Boom. 33 The early nineteenth-century 
audience got its full money's worth at the theatre a good fifty 
cents' worth of lively entertainment The program of main 
feature, several shorts, and a comedy pointed the way to the 
modern movie program. So did the occasional double feature. 
The theatre of the 1840's reached out to very much the same type 
of audience. 

Apart from Shakespeare, few of the plays constituting the the- 


atre's principal offerings have survived even in memory. They 
were largely English in origin, or adapted from the German of 
such a popular playwright as Kotzebue. American dramas were 
a long time in coming, and those written in this period hardly 
deserved to last. For the excellent plays with which the colonial 
theatre had supplemented Shakespeare, there was substituted a 
miscellany of largely worthless trash. The Lady of Lyons and 
Richelieu, both by Bulwer-Lytton, were popular; Sheridan 
Knowles* The Hunchback was a favorite; and a number of plays 
specially written for Forrest The Gladiator and Metamora, 
The Last of the Wamponoags had a wide vogue. Mrs. Anna 
Cora Mowatt struck a new note with her comedy of manners 
Fashion; Dion Boucicault started the long list of his popular 
dramas with London Assurance, and in mid-century came Our 
American Cousin, which Lincoln was seeing on the fatal night 
of his assassination. Even more typical of this day were such 
plays as the historical romance The Green Mountain Boys of 
1776; the French adaptation Adeline, or The Victim of Seduc- 
tion; the old farce of High Life below Stairs; and the exciting 
melodrama Nick of the Woods: 

Hold, murdering villain! Richard Braxley, forbearl 
Now, Rowland Forester, I defy theel 
Monster, hold. . . . 

Behold thy promised bride. Consent to make her mine or down yon 
boiling cataract IH hurl her to destruction. . . . 

Shakespeare's greatest rival, however, was probably John Bald- 
win Buckingstone, the prolific author (one hundred and fifty 
plays) of The "Pet of the Petticoats and A Kiss in the Dark. 

No one of these plays ever had a run comparable to those 
achieved to-day by scores of modern productions. It was The 
Drunkard, or The Fallen Saved, with a record of some one 
hundred and thirty performances at the Boston Museum in 1844, 
that inaugurated the more modern custom of an unchanging 
bill over any considerable period. 3 * Its highly moral treatment 


of the universal topic of temperance (Watkins almost kflled 
himself with his realistic interpretation of delirium tremens), 
made a tremendous appeal to those pious elements of society 
who usually condemned the theatre as a subversive influence 
undermining morals. 

Even more important in winning new converts to the theatre, 
a landmark in the gradual breaking down of religious prejudice 
against the stage, was Uncle Tom's Cabin. Its dramatic version 
its many dramatic versions toured the country with phenom- 
enal success in the 1850*5. Performances were given by troupes 
of Tommers in villages and hamlets where a play had never 
before been seen. Its exploitation of antislavery sentiment 
brought thousands of persons to the theatre who justified their 
attendance by devotion to what the Herald, assailing the play as 
a firebrand, called the "pestilent principles of abolitionism." 35 
After the Civil War there was a revival of Uncle Torrfs Cabin. 
It became a classic of the stage, performed more times than any 
other American play; and Uncle Tom, Little Eva, Simon Legree, 
became a part of our national folklore. 

As THE CENTUBY advanced and theatre audiences became more 
and more plebeian, various specialty performances with an even 
wider popular appeal increasingly overshadowed serious drama. 
The hodgepodge of entertainment in which acrobatic acts and 
farces lightened Shakespearean tragedy gave way to a new 
differentiation in programs. The legitimate stage and wholly 
popular entertainment were at last divorced. There was a franker 
appeal to "the blood and thunder taste of the lower half million* 
by producers whose sole goal was to chalk up large box-office 

One such type of performance coming down from an early 
day was the equestrian drama. It was soon to merge with travel- 
ing menageries and country road shows to form the modern 
circus, but throughout the first half of the century there were 


many heroic spectacles in which troops of horses clattered noisily 
on and off stage at even the most aristocratic houses. The great 
size of the stage made this easily possible, and there was con- 
tinuous rivalry among the managers in presenting more and 
more elaborate spectacles. They crowded the background with 
precipices, waterfalls, forest groves, lakes, terraces, palaces, and 
castle walls. The scenery was always advertised as being of the 
most gorgeous description, the dresses extraordinarily costly, 
and the stage machineiy the most complicated and expensive yet 

Consider the stage directions of the prologue of Putnam, or 
The Iron Son of 76: 


Slow music. Three quarters dark. Ethereal firmament filled with 
silver stars. Eagle flying in the air > to ascend, looking down upon a 
lion couchant, on trap to descend. The goddesses discovered in vari- 
ous groups bearing blue wands with silver stars. God of War on small 
Roman chariot, to descend. Goddess of Liberty on trap in small Roman 
chariot, to descend. 

In the more serious business of the play, Putnam is continually 
dashing about the stage on horseback, guns and drums keeping 
up a terrific uproar in the wings. Finally he leaps a gate, falls 
on the stage covered with blood: 

CLARA. Dear Uncle, you are wounded! 

PUTNAM. A mere flea bite! Arm boys, arm; the white skins and red 

skins are upon us! The war kettle boils! Three cheers, and upon 

them! 86 

In 1803 the grand pantomime of La Fille Hussar was per- 
formed in New York with real horses "never before attempted 
in America.** A few years later Philadelphia went wild over 
Timour the Tartar, an exciting drama in which the heroine, 
mounted on her splendid white charger, "ran up the stupendous 
cataract to the very height of the stage." During the depression 
year of 1837 the immensely popular Mazeppa, or The Wild 


Horse, was playing to standing-room only in New York with 
"Mr. Cook's unrivalled stud of horses, amounting to fifty in 
number." 37 

Even Shakespeare was put on horseback with a neat blending 
of classic drama and the circus. Henry TV was staged as a mam- 
moth spectacle, Richard III performed with the principal charac- 
ters mounted. Toward the close of its long career the Park 
attempted to remain loyal to its traditions and at the same time 
profit from a broader appeal by staging what it called a Tribute 
to Shakespeare. Neither Forrest nor Macready nor Booth was 
the star attraction, but the famous southern equestrian C. J. 
Rogers, assisted by twenty-one riders in correct and superb cos- 
tumes. To the delight of his audience Mr. Rogers impersonated 
on horseback, among a number of other less distinguished horse- 
men, both Falstaff and Shylock. 38 

Quite a different and surprisingly popular show was the ballet. 
The first arrival of a troupe of French dancers in the 1820*s 
caused a sensation. Many contemporary accounts bear witness 
to the consternation of even veteran theatre-goers. "I was at the 
first presentation," Achille Murat wrote. 'The appearance of the 
dancers in short dresses, created an astonishment I know not 
how to describe. But at the first pirouette when the short petti- 
coats, with lead at the extremities began to mount and assume 
a horizontal position, it was quite another matter; the women 
screamed aloud and the greater part left the theatre; the men 
remained, for the most part roaring and sobbing with ecstasy, the 
sole idea which struck them being that of the ridiculous/* 39 

Audiences quickly became more sophisticated. Even in Boston 
the ballet was a great success, a contemporary reporting that 
"the more outre the dancing, the more applause." When the 
divine Fanny Elssler arrived in the 1840's, her triumph was a 
milestone in theatrical history. Her sensational dancing of La 
Cracovienne and La Tarentule became "all the rageall the 
mania all the talk." "The grace, the beauty, the purity, the hue 
of innocence and virtue which surrounded the highest and most 

Lithographed cover o a miKiifi shftfit of 1840. Courtesv of the American 


classical order of dancing," rhapsodized the New fork Herald, 
"was never presented here in so marked and distinct style." 40 

The lamentations of outraged prudes did not stay for a moment 
her triumphal tour about the country or prevent her from being 
invited to sit in the chair of the Speaker of the House of Rep- 
resentatives.* 1 "The good newspapers rail dreadfully at the bad 
people who will go to see her/' Philip Hone noted in his diary, 
". . . but the more they rail the more people won't mind them. 
Nothing is more ridiculous than these abortive attempts to stem 
the current of public opinion in relation to the people's amuse- 
ment" 42 

The 1840's also saw the growth of a new type of burlesque 
and musical travesty, the forerunners of to-day's topical revues, 
which delighted both the newsboys at Mitchell's Olympic The- 
atre and the more fashionable audience at Brougham's Lyceum. 
Everything was burlesqued: Shakespeare in Much Ado about 
a Merchant of Venice, the dancing of Fanny Elssler in La 
Mosquito, and grand opera in Lucy Did Lamm Her Moor. 
Elaborate extravaganzas were staged, such as Pocahontas with 
its lusty chorus: 

Well roared, indeed, my jolly Tuscaroras 

Most loyal corps, your King encores your chorus. 

A revue centered upon the marital customs of the Mormons had 
an even greater success. The Bowery Amphitheatre made a sen- 
sation with The Revolt of the Harem. Over the horizon was The 
Black Crook (it was to run at Niblo's for sixteen months when 
first staged in 1866 and was thereafter revived again and again 
until the close of the century) and the rage for what were al- 
ready being called leg shows. 43 

This trend in theatrical entertainment inevitably awoke new 
opposition to the stage and served in some part to offset the ap- 
proval it was winning among former foes by the production of 
such plays as The Drunkard and Uncle Toms Cabin. When some 
of the managers went a step further still and staged a series of 


tableaux vivants in which appeared living men and women in 
almost the same state in which Gabriel saw them in the Garden 
of Eden," the godly were still more convinced that the stage was 
the Devil's workshop. 

Advertisements of the Living Models assured the public that 
nothing would be shown that could bring a blush to the most 
chaste cheek, but with this concession to prevailing morals they 
went unashamedly ahead to stress the "beautiful symmetry" of 
the artists who would appear in "Psyche Going to the Bath" and 
"Venus Rising from the Sea." 44 Crowds flocked to the new at- 
tractions. The Tribune forcefully declared that "the majority go 
because of depraved taste rather than pure love of art"; the 
Herald stigmatized the audiences as "fashionable old rakes and 
ineffable scoundrels about town"; 45 but the fact remained that 
the classes as well as the masses found their senses agreeably 
titillated Nothing could better illustrate the curious blend of 
prudery and prurience which characterized the period. 

Finally the police were goaded into action and descended on 
one of the shows. There ensued a "scene of stirring interest" in 
the dressing-rooms, again to quote the Herald, "where some five 
or six well formed females were in the act of preparing for the 
next tableau. In one corner was seen a very fleshly lady dressed 
as Bacchus, studying her position on a barrel. Another beauti- 
fully formed creature, just drawing on her tights for the Greek 
Slave, and some of the others, were so dreadfully alarmed at the 
sight of the police with their clubs in hand that they seized up 
a portion of their garments in order to hide their faces, forgetting 
their lower extremities, thus making a scene mixed up with the 
sublime and the ridiculous*" 4S 

The girls were duly escorted to the police station (where a 
supper of roast turkey and wine was served to "cheer their 
souls"), and measures taken to prevent any further performances. 
Eventually they proved successful. In the Sunday Mercury in 
May, 1848, we find a plaintive correspondent sorrowfully asking 
what has happened to 


Those nice tableaux vivants 

Of beautiful young ladies, sans 

Both petticoats and pants, 

Who, scorning fashion's shifts and whims 

Did nightly crowds delight 

By showing up their handsome limbs 

At fifty cents a sight 47 

A more important development was the production of variety 
shows clearly foreshadowing modern vaudeville. By the middle 
of the century every city had playhouses presenting varied pro- 
grams of specialty acts designed solely for the entertainment of 
the democracy. The theatrical advertising columns fairly bristled 
with announcements of such performances. At Niblo's a program 
featuring the celebrated Ravels, a band of pantomimists, acro- 
bats, and dancers, was even advertised as "French Vaudeville." 
Another playhouse was renamed the New Theatre of Mirth and 
Variety. Its shows included "Elboleros, Cachuchas, Scotch flings 
and Strathspeys," a selection of "the most astonishing feats of 
Gymnastics and Contortions ever presented in this country," and 
an act billed as "the Flying Cord by the unequalled Mr. Ruggles." 
The whole performance, admission from 6& to 25 cents, was en- 
livened with music by the New York Brass Band. 48 

The program at the Franklin Theatre on one occasion included 
Chemistry, French plays, Magic, Mesmeric Clairvoyance, beau- 
tiful and admired Astronomical Diagrams, and Diaphanous 
Tableaux a selection clearly designed to meet all tastes, includ- 
ing the educational. The popularity of infant prodigies was re- 
flected on the variety stage, a featured act being the Bateman 
children, aged six and eleven, who played in Romeo and Juliet 
and The Merchant of Venice. Other shows paid less attention 
to the vogue for culture. Ballad-singers, strong men (breaking 
eighty-pound stones with their bare fists), burlesque dancers, 
and companies of female minstrels were widely advertised. A 
new costume suggested for women at this time was responsible 
for the Bloomer Troupe, while a mysterious act sandwiched in 


between the bloomer girls and the juvenile Shakespeareans was 
titled "Spiritual! Nekings," As the variety theatre worked its way 
down through the free-and-easy concert-halls, the entertainment 
became more and more questionable. Free Sunday performances 
were given at the Melodeon, advertising "prettiest female at- 
tendants, best wines and segars and liquors." 49 

LEGITIMATE DRAMA was not entirely given up even though the 
theatres devoted to circus stunts and variety multiplied much 
faster than the more conservative houses. But mid-century critics 
gave the impression that it was forever doomed by such un- 
ashamed catering to a debased public taste through "senseless, 
absurd, inconsistent, tinselled, vulgar and immodest spectacles." 
None of them was more alarmed than the future poet of democ- 
racy. "Of all low* places," Walt Whitman stormily wrote in the 
Brooklyn Eagle of February 8, 1847, "where vulgarity (not only 
on the stage, but in front of it) is in the ascendant, and bad 
taste carries the day with hardly a pleasant point to mitigate its 
coarseness, the New York theatres except the Park may be put 
down ... at the top of the heap." 50 

In so far as these attacks were justified, the reason could 
largely be found in the failure of the better elements of the popu- 
lation to give the theatre decent support. In a day when the stage 
was "indiscriminately voted immoral, irreligious, and what is 
much worse, unfashionable," as Philip Hone sharply declared, 51 
there was very little the managers could do other than give the 
general public what it wanted. The survival of the theatre during 
the hard times that followed the panic of 1837, its success in rid- 
ing out that financial storm, was largely due to this broadening 
of its popular appeal. It could not afford to be artistic or too 

It was really more firmly established, however, than the con- 
temporary critics thought. Looking back upon the age that saw 
the great acting of Edmund Kean, Edwin Forrest, and Junius 


Brutus Booth, of Fanny Kemble and Charlotte Cushman, as well 
as the equestrian melodrama, living models, and variety shows 
of the cheaper houses, writers on the theatre now declare that the 
second quarter of the nineteenth century ushered in a golden 
era in the history of the American stage. 52 

"Still does the Drama sit with the mob; still is Pegasus yoked 
with the ox/' a contributor to the Dial declared in I860. 53 Enter- 
tainment for the democracy was the theatre's primary function 
at a time when it was the only public diversion, as the Southern 
Literary Messenger stated, to furnish "entertainment to all 
classes." a * 



* V appeal, it faced the increasing competition of other forms 
of commercial entertainment. By the 1850's almost every city 
had a museum with a jumbled collection of curiosities, dead and 
alive, and a program of concerts and variety acts which could 
be seen for twenty-five or fifty cents. At scores of music-halls 
bands of black-faced comedians broke happily into the "Lucy 
Long Walk Around" or plaintively sang "Old Black Joe" as a 
phenomenal rage for minstrelsy swept the land. And into towns 
and villages from Maine to Georgia, westward to the Mis- 
sissippi, rolled the red and gold wagons housing the properties 
of what was to become one of America's great institutions the 

Phineas T. Barnum stands out as the leading figure of this 
period in amusing the populace. No struggle between dramatic 
standards and popular taste ever troubled the master showman 
of them all. He was not one whit interested in art; he was inter- 
ested in entertainment He recognized the potential market in 
the restless urban masses. With uncanny prescience he sensed 
what they wanted, or could be made to want, and gave it to 
them. He gave it enthusiastically, generously, lavishly whether 
Jenny Lind, the country's pioneer baby show, or his Grand 
Colossal Museum and Menagerie. Nor did Mr. Barnum ever 
wait for his public to become bored; he believed in infinite va- 
riety. The Feejee mermaid gave way to General Tom Thumb, 
General Tom Thumb to the Bearded Lady, the Bearded Lady 
to Campagnolian Bell Ringers. His American Museum took in 



everything from trained fleas to panoramas of the Holy Land. 
James Gordon Bennett called hfm the Napoleon of Public Cater- 
ers : 4 he always provided a good show, and the eager, unsophis- 
ticated, amusement-hungry public of his day loved it. 

Barnum represented democracy in public entertainment much 
as Andrew Jackson had represented it in politics. Government 
in the interests of the common man, amusements in the interests 
of the common man. No one did more to promote the leveling 
influence of popular recreation. The theatre had tried to com- 
promise. It staged its equestrian dramas, its burlesques, its ex- 
travaganzas, but it was always trying to get back to Shakespeare, 
looking a little down its nose at the raucous taste of the lower 
half -million. Mr. Barnum was out to take the lower half-million 
into camp, and he succeeded because his methods were direct 
and simple. The democratic masses followed his lead as docilely 
as the Irish visitors at his Museum followed tihe sign "to the 
Egress" and found themselves in the street. For though some- 
times he outrageously fooled his public, put over elaborate 
hoaxes, they enjoyed it hugely. 

It was all highly educational and strictly moral the exhibi- 
tions in his museum, the strange curiosities touring the country 
under his sponsorship, the variety acts staged in his sumptuous 
lecture-room. When the old lady from Dubuque asked him when 
the service began, the great showman soberly told her that the 
congregation were already taking their seats. Spellbound country 
folk who delighted in his presentations of The Drunkard and 
Uncle Toms Cabin would have been horrified at the suggestion 
that they had attended the theatre. 

This skilful exploitation of the prejudices of his day was one 
of the secrets of Barnum's success. The gospel of work, the 
urge for self-education, religious disapproval of amusements, 
never hampered his activities. The theatre struggled against the 
spirit of the times. Barnum capitalized it The "chaste scenic 
entertainments" of his lecture-room were generously staged for 
"all those who disapprove of the dissipations, debaucheries, pro- 


fanity, vulgarity, and other abominations, which characterize our 
modern theatres." 2 Not a thought would be breathed in his 
museum, let alone act performed or word uttered, that could 
bring a blush to the cheek of modesty. The Puritan in entertain- 
ment, Barnum proudly recorded that "even Shakespeare's dramas 
were shorn of their objectionable features when placed upon 
my stage." 3 He saw sermons in circus elephants and preached 
them to the discomfiture of rival managers. No one better under- 
stood the temper of the Victorian era. 

BABNUM'S American Museum it was in New York, but it had its 
counterpart in other cities and its features were widely copied 
became a national institution in the 1840*s. No out-of-towner ever 
missed it; it was the delight of country visitors. They might occa- 
sionally have seen giants and dwarfs, jugglers and rope-dancers, 
pantomimes and acrobats, but here under one roof was a wealth 
of amusements (six hundred thousand curiosities) such as im- 
agination could hardly picture. The visitor bored by the national 
portrait gallery could watch the three living serpents of enor- 
mous size being given their noonday meal. When he had ex- 
hausted the wonders of the model of Niagara Falls (with real 
water from the new Croton Reservoir), he could have his fortune 
told by the mysterious Madame Rockwell. There were statues of 
scriptural characters and waxwork figures depicting the horrors 
of intemperance; models of new machines and an anatomical 
Venus; an ever-changing selection of panoramas, dioramas, cy- 
cloramas, and georamas. 4 

Urban workers and country farmers were not the only visitors. 
When a Canadian giant was exhibited, the aristocratic Philip 
Hone, one-time mayor, made careful measurements of this 
natural phenomenon, reporting in his diary that the 619-pound 
monstrosity had ankles three feet five inches around. He went 
repeatedly to see General Tom Thumb. Upon the midget's re- 
turn from his triumphal foreign tour ("kissed by a million pairs 


of the sweetest lips in Europe**), Mr. Hone proudly noted that 
Tom Thumb spoke to him by name. 5 

From the portals of the Museum went out scores of traveling 
exhibitions which gave Barnum his nation-wide fame. Some of 
them were authentic, some of them cleverly faked. There was no 
denying the genuineness of the giants and midgets. Possibly the 
bearded lady was a border-line case, although her whiskers were 
guaranteed "to put at a single glance all incredulity at defiance." 
But there were also Joice Heth, whom Barnum blandly claimed 
to have been the nurse of George Washington; the notorious 
Woolly Horse, supposedly captured by John C. Fremont; and in 
later years the famous white elephants of Siam. 6 Few people 
really cared whether the elephants owed their color to art rather 
than nature, even when the whitewash began to fade. No one 
minded being taken in by the Prince of Humbugs. 

When exhibitions began to pall, Barnum experimented with 
melodrama and variety acts in his sumptuous Lecture Room. 
He was prepared to stage anything so long as it was highly 
moral and he gradually evolved a program with two and three 
performances a day which won his show-place still greater pop- 
ularity. In midsummer of 1843 we find him advertising Chang 
Fong, the Chinese juggler; the inimitable Winchell, famous for 
"Droll, quizzical, mirth-provoking impersonations"; a knitting- 
machine run by a dog; and the Ethiopian Serenaders, with "six 
performers, each one of whom is a professor of music." 7 

The most spectacular triumph of Barnum's career more nota- 
ble than the European tour with General Tom Thumb was his 
mid-century presentation of Jenny Lind. The country had never 
known anything comparable to the excitement evoked by the 
tour of the Swedish Nightingale. Fanny Kemble had won the 
heart of America in the 1830*s, Fanny Elssler had swept all before 
her in the 1840's. Jenny Lind became the idol of millions who 
would not have anything to do with the stage. New York, Bos- 
ton, Philadelphia, the South and the West, worshiped at her 


"Not a day passes," wrote a contemporary diarist just before 
her appearance at Castle Garden, "without some article lauding 
her talents until Jenny Lind is in every mouth; Jenny Lind hats, 
Jenny Lind coats, cigars, oysters, etc., in short, everything is 
Jenny Lind. When she arrived on Sunday from England, thou- 
sands of people swarmed the wharf eager to glimpse the "Divine 
Creature/ Her carriage to the hotel could hardly make its way 
through the dense crowds. At night she was serenaded, and by 
day the Irving House was besieged by men, women and children 
anxious to peek at her." 8 

The newspapers estimated these crowds milling about her 
hotel at thirty thousand. They reported a street fight growing 
out of a struggle to recover a peach-stone which she had sup- 
posedly dropped from the balcony; the enterprise of a speculator 
who had secured what was declared to be one of her gloves, 
charging twenty-five cents to kiss the outside of it, fifty cents 
the inside. A competition for a Jenny Land prize song, won by 
Bayard Taylor, attracted seven hundred and fifty entries. "New 
York is conquered,** the press agreed, "a hostile army or fleet 
could not effect a conquest so complete." "The excitement is of 
the hottest temperature," one paper declared. "It is universally 
conceded that Jenny Lind is the greatest woman, Barnum is the 
greatest man ... in the world." Tickets for the first concert were 
auctioned off at $225. Boston showed a supercilious scorn for 
such emotionalism on the part of New York and was soon 
paying $625 for the first ticket at its own auction. 9 

It was inspired showmanship. Barnum knew his public and 
played upon its emotions with a sure touch. America had not 
seen Jenny Lind (no more had Barnum before she landed in 
New York), had not heard her, knew nothing of her. He pub- 
licized her beauty, her generosity, her goodness, so eloquently 
that he made her a heroine whom all America could take to its 
sentimental heart. The popularity of twentieth-century movie 
stars can hardly be compared with it. Accounts of Lindomania 
reaching the staid office of the London Times aroused deep con- 

First Appearance of Jenny Lind in America 

Castle Garden, New York, September 11, 1850. Lithograph by N. Currier. 
J. Clarence Davies Collection, Museum of the City- of New York. 

Jim Crow 

Thomas D. Rice 
on the fifty-seventh 
night of his sensa- 
tional success at the 
American Theatre, 
New York, Novem- 
ber 25, 1833. Con- 
temporary painting 
in possession of the 
Museum of the 
City of New York. 


Christy's Minstrels 

Lithograph by Sarony and Major after a drawing by N. Sarony, 1847. 
J. Qarence Davies Collection, Museum of the City of New York. 


cern. If the American people could be so easily swayed by an 
appeal to their emotions, they would be at the mercy of the first 
political adventurer who attempted to exploit them. 10 

Accounts of her first appearance at Castle Garden state that 
seven thousand persons crowded the auditorium, and when Jenny 
Lind appeared on the stage, demurely dressed in white, the 
audience rose as one man to greet her with such prolonged 
cheering, handkerchief -waving, and clapping that it appeared 
doubtful if tie performance could ever get tinder way. She 
sang "Casta Diva," Rossini's "I Turchi in Italia," the "Herdsman's 
Song," and the prize-winning "Greeting to America." Her success 
could not have been greater. To Castle Garden," commented the 
Tribune's critic, "is reserved the sublime spectacle of a whole 

people, as it were, worshiping at the shrine of art Jenny Lind 

is evidently most herself and most inspired when she sings most 

That was the symbol of her triumph. Barnum knew very well 
what he was about. He was not concerned with Jenny Lind's 
contribution to American music (although she paved the way 
for successful tours by many other singers and musicians) or 
with any other phase of her artistic career. He had sensed the 
new market for entertainment, a market which took in the masses 
of citizenry, and he supplied a popular product. He dressed it 
up in the sort of package that he knew would please American 
taste, and as he traveled about the country with his prima 
donna, he lectured alternate nights on temperance. 

During her nine months* tour, visiting every major city in the 
United States, Jenny Lind gave ninety-five concerts. The gross 
receipts were $712,161, affording Jenny Lind $176,675 and Bar- 
num (including expenses) $535,486. 12 Popular amusement paid; 
it was becoming big business. Nor did the American people 
criticize Barnum for his financial success. That he could make 
money out of offering them entertainment whatever it was 
endeared him even more to them. 


THE MINSTREL SHOWS which were so popular in the 1840's and 
1850's were something far more than an amusing act incorporated 
in the program of a variety bill or occasionally presented at 
Baraum's Museum. They were a unique form of entertainment, 
thoroughly American in their inspiration, whose appeal was uni- 
versal. The gay, rollicking walk-arounds, the sad, sweet notes of 
the sentimental ballads, the grotesque exaggerations and tall 
stories, the incessant cross-fire of shrewd jokes, were so native 
to the soil that the democracy crowded to hear them. The min- 
strels won instant popularity in New England, spread throughout 
the Middle West, and went to California with the gold-rush. 
Every city had several hands of black-faced comedians. Road 
companies playing in local halls or under canvas toured back 
and forth throughout the country. The most eminent in comedy 
or tragedy toiled with but slight reward, mourned an English 
actor, while "fantazias upon the bones, or banjo, have called 
forth the plaudits of admiring thousands." 13 

Minstrelsy made its formal bow before an unsuspecting public 
when Dan Emmetf s "novel, grotesque, original and surpassingly 
melodious Ethiopian band, entitled the Virginia Minstrels," 
opened at the Chatham Theatre, in New York, early in 1843. 14 
But it had had predecessors. The most popular (for the first 
black-face performer on the American stage is not known) was 
the Jim Crow act of the comedian Thomas D. Rice. From the 
first time it was given (the records variously stating it was at 
Louisville, Cincinnati, and Pittsburgh about 1829 ) 15 thunderous 
applause greeted the shuffling steps danced to the plaintive 
little song: 

Wheel about, turn about, 

Do jis so, 

An' ebery time I wheel about 

I jump Jim Crow. 

It was as popular in New York and Boston as in the cities of 
the Mississippi Valley; it was a success in London. Joseph Jeffer- 
son was introduced to the stage by way of Jim Crow. Rice 


brought him on, aged four, in a bag and dumped him on the 

Ladies and gentlemen, 
I'd have for you to know, 
Tse got a litde darky here 
To jump Jim Crow. 16 

The vogue for this act had prepared the way for the real 
minstrel shows. Their success, one magazine declared, was 
"unparalleled by any popular exhibition that has ever been of- 
fered in New York." 17 Barnum early jumped aboard the band- 
wagon with his own Ethiopian Serenaders, but the most famous 
minstrel band was Christy's. Established at Mechanics Hall in 
New York in 1846, it gave its "unique and chaste* performance 
almost nightly for a period of ten years, drawing crowds which 
were always enthusiastic over the performers' tuneful songs, 
clever dancing, and engaging humor. At one time there were 
some ten minstrel shows playing simultaneously in New York; 
Boston had several companies; and Cincinnati was the min- 
strelsy center of the West. The Kentucky Minstrels, Bryant's 
Minstrels, the Nightingale Serenaders, the Washington Utopians, 
the Sable Brothers, Ordway's Aeolians. . . . Throughout the coun- 
trytraveling "a world of belated railway trains, steamboat 
explosions and collisions, and runaway stage horses" these black- 
face comedians sang and danced. 18 

From the moment the interlocutor gave his stentorian com- 
mand, "Gentlemen, be seated," and the end-men, resplendent in 
gaudy full-dress suits, wide white collars setting off their heavily 
blackened faces, took their places, happy audiences sank back to 
revel in a show whose spontaneity removed it far from the arti- 
ficialities of so much of the contemporary theatre. Mistah Tambo 
and Mistah Bones spoke the language of the people for all 
their exaggerated dialect. Their jokes, timely and topical, were 
meant to be understood and laughed at by the man in the street. 
When they sang, it was a song all the world knew and could 
sing. Delighted audiences stamped and cheered when the min- 


strels swung into "The Essence of Old Virginnv" or ''Old Dan 

Old Dan Tucker was a fine old man, 

Washed his face in a frying pan, 

Combed his hair with a wagon wheel, 

Died with the toothache in his heel. 

There were many other favorites: "Stop dat Knockin 7 at My 
Door," "Dandy Jim of Caroline," "Hard Times Come Again No 
More," "Big Sunflower," "Root, Hog, or Die": 

Tse de happiest darkee on de top ob de earth, 
I get fat as possum in de time ob de dearth, 
Like pig in a tater patch, dar let me lie, 
Way down in old Virginny, where it's 
Root, hog, or die 19 

The humor of the old-time minstrel show was rough and 
ready, although the essentially clean and moral atmosphere of 
the performance was one of its greatest assets. The jigs and fancy 
steps danced to tambourine and castanets were lively and amus- 
ing. But in its songs, minstrelsy had something genuine and 
enduring. While everything else about it was ephemeral, its 
music won a hold which it has never lost It was for these black- 
face comedians, these knights of the burnt cork, that Stephen 
C. Foster wrote "My Old Kentucky Home," "Old Black Joe," 
"The Old Folks at Home," and "O Susanna." It was as a minstrel- 
show walk-around that "Dixie," written by Dan Emmett, won 
its popular vogue. Lincoln heard it at a performance in 1860. 
"Let's have it again!" he shouted from his box. "Let's have it 
again!" Within the year Lincoln was President and "Dixie" the 
battle-song of the Confederacy. 20 

Through its songs the minstrel show has won immortality, but 
in the form in which the nineteenth century so enjoyed it, it 
has almost completely faded away. The other types of popular 
entertainment developing in this period gradually expanded, or 
took on new shapes, but Mistak Tambo and Mistah Bones are 


to-day seldom seen. The limitations of minstrelsy were too 
marked. There was no room for the change and diversification 
that the public in time demanded. There were no women in the 
cast As interest began to decline in the decade after the Civil 
War, the minstrels drew further and further away from the 
carefree, homely atmosphere of ihe plantation life they had 
tried to depict It had always been fanciful rather than realistic 
who can say to what extent the popular conception of Negro 
character was framed by minstrelsy, how influential it was in 
winning northern sympathy for the slave? but the minstrels of 
the latter part of the century bore no relation whatsoever to the 
plantation blacks. When the slender thread that bound their 
performances to real life was snapped, their shows were doomed. 

THE emeus was another form of popular entertainment now 
gradually evolving. It did not spring full-panoplied upon the 
world, this dazzling combination of animal exhibits, equestrian 
performances, band music, and crude comedy. Nor was it a 
revival of those elaborate spectacles, marked by the cruelty of 
the gladiatorial contest, whereby the rulers of Rome had sought 
to queS the restlessness of the populace. The American circus, 
with all its distinctive features, was a native product It was a 
combination of the little menageries and bands of itinerant acro- 
bats which had put on their performances at the colonial taverns 
and the more sophisticated equestrian circuses which had been 
staged in city amphitheatres (the pit easily converted into a 
ring) since the close of the eighteenth century. It became pri- 
marily a traveling tent show, providing the rural population with 
an equivalent for the popular theatre and the variety-hall. It 
was one answer to the need for diversion of country people who 
found themselves isolated from the multiplying attractions of 
city life. 

Among the traveling animal exhibits early in the century, the 
most ambitious was that of Hackaliah Bailey, of Somers, New 


York. Soon after the War of 1812 he toured New England with 
the famous elephant Old Bet She created a tremendous sensa- 
tion; everywhere crowds flocked to see her. To avoid giving a 
free show en route, Bailey had to travel by night But learning 
that the elephant was coming the fanners lined the road with 
huge bonfires, and Old Bet literally traveled in a blaze of glory. 
Until she met her tragic end shot by an irate Maine farmer 
whose bigotry could not condone even the exhibition of an ele- 
phantshe had a spectacular success. 21 

It inspired other managers of traveling menageries. They 
began to make more extensive tours, aided by the slow improve- 
ment of roads, and animal exhibits became a feature of village 
entertainment Barn shows were given, with admission usually 
12K cents, at which the farmers gaped wonderingly at strange 
apparitions from another world. Contemporary notices tell of one 
in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1816 at which a tiger, buffalo, and 
dancing dogs were exhibited; of another in Lawrenceville, Penn- 
sylvania, twelve years later with a bear, a wolf, a camel, and a 
monkey. 22 

In this same period acrobats also began to join forces to travel 
about the country together. These little groups of entertainers 
would send a clown ahead to announce their coming with a few 
antics on the village green (precursor of the circus parade), and 
the performance would be given at night Not in a tent. A piece 
of canvas would be stretched about a small platform, the troupe's 
wagons drawn up to serve as box seats at twenty-five cents 
apiece; and tight-rope dancer, juggler, or sword-swallower would 
go through his fascinating routine on a stage lit by flaring pine 
torches. 23 

For long the menageries and the acrobatic troupes maintained 
a separate identity. Sometimes they traveled together, the one 
staging its performance in the afternoon and the other in the 
evening; but there were two distinct shows. Gradually they 
began to join forces. The proprietors of the menageries added a 
few acrobatic performers; managers of the acrobats included aoi- 


P I BARIUM, ftw tf. FCST ccxnttt omcnon HCNRY. BARKUK ^Acea 

Enters the Circus Field 

Lithographed poster, about 1840, Courtesy of the American Antiquarian 


Circus Day in Chicago 

Parade passing the Sherman House at Clark and Randolph Streets, about 

1866. Lithograph by Jevene and Almini. Courtesy of the New York 

Historical Society. 


mal exhibits. A more ambitious Joint entertainment developed 
which was usually staged under canvas. 

The country about Somers, New York, where Old Bet had had 
her start, became the headquarters for a number of these new 
rolling shows. They toured New England, worked their way 
south where warm weather gave them longer playing seasons, 
and gradually crept westward toward the frontier. But these 
pioneers of the circus had to be both enterprising and daring. 
Traveling conditions were still difficult, and in the rural districts 
the popular attitude was often severely disapproving. They had 
to perform miracles in meeting the problem of transportation, 
and they could combat prejudice only by continually stressing 
the supposed cultural features of their entertainment It was 
long before a circus dared call itself a circus. It clung to the 
name menagerie which the pious approved, invariably adver- 
tising the performance as "a great moral and educational ex- 
hibition." It was perhaps from their early association with such 
shows that James Fisk and Daniel Drew, both circus men in 
their young days, learned the technique which stood them in 
such good stead in their later exploitation of a gullible investing 

By the 1830's some thirty rolling shows were regularly touring 
the country. Buckley and Wick had eight wagons, forty horses, 
thirty-five performers, and a tent holding eight hundred people. 
Soon the Zoological Institute advertised forty-seven carriages and 
wagons, one hundred and twenty matched gray horses, fourteen 
musicians, and sixty performers. The parade had by now been 
introduced; the performers came to town to the blare of a brass 
band. Still it was not the real circus. There was no ring; there 
were no riding acts. 2 * 

The final step in the evolution of this institution, its merger 
with the equestrian shows of urban amphitheatres, took place 
just before mid-century. The popular appeal of riding and 
tumbling acts (President Washington had been an impressed 
spectator at John Bill Ricketts* indoor circus in the ITOffs) nat- 


urally suggested an addition to the program of the traveling 
tent shows. 25 The more enterprising managers introduced a ring 
beneath the big top; the country as well as the city was treated 
to bareback riding and trick horsemanship. The thrills of eques- 
trianism supplemented the lure of wild animals, and the circus as 
we know it to-day at last emerged in all its spangled glory. 26 

The Mammoth Circus of Howe and Mabie "Greatest Estab- 
lishment of its Kind in the Worldsventured as far west as 
Chicago in the 1850's, and there faced the unexpected competi- 
tion of the Grand Olympic Arena and United States Circus. Van 
Amburg and Company's Menagerie still advertising itself as 
"the only moral and instructive exhibition in America 9 * carried 
east and west its African ostriches nine feet high, its polar bears, 
and Hannibal, the world's largest elephant Dan Rice, King of 
American Clowns, was earning $1,000 a week with his acrobatic 
nonsense; the famous Herr Driesbach was nonchalantly having 
his supper "at a table set in the den of his animals." Finally, in 
1856, the Spaulding and Roger's Circus announced it would 
travel by railroad, nine special cars: "team horses and wagons 
won't do in this age of steam." a7 

Nothing could have been more democratic than the circus. 
Traveling what was still pioneer country, Edmund Flagg found 
the little village of Carkmsville, Illinois, "absolutely reeling under 
the excitement of the 'Grand Menagerie/ From all points of the 
compass men, women and children, emerging from the forest, 
came pouring into the place, some upon horses, some in farm 
wagons, and troops of others on foot" 28 Seeing a performance 
at Newport, Belle Brittan wrote: "Everybody went all classes, 
ages, colors and conditions. There were as many as five thousand 
people there, all mixed up with the most democratic indiscrimi- 
nation Fifth Avenue belles sitting on narrow boards with their 
dresses under their arms, alongside of Irish chambermaids and 
colored persons of all sizes and sexes." 29 

Barnum now entered the circus field. It was not yet the 
Greatest Show on Earth, only a Grand Colossal Museum and 


Menagerie, but nothing in the 1850*s could rival it General Tom 
Thumb was a first drawing-card; there was choice o all the 
freaks and curiosities of the American Museum, and a menagerie 
drawn from the four quarters of the earth. Barnum had char- 
tered a ship, sent abroad for his own animals. It was an epochal 
day in circus history when his ten elephants, fresh from Ceylon, 
paraded up Broadway harnessed in pairs to a gilded chariot and 
amid the cheers of an immense crowd were reviewed by Jenny 
Land from the balcony of the Irving House. 30 



JL country's early theatres, who made up the vast audience so 
cleverly exploited by Mr. Barnum, were also responsible for the 
beginnings of what are termed spectator sports. City crowds early 
developed that habit of watching others perform in the field of 
sport which has so often given rise to the charge that Americans 
are a nation of onlookers. It was a complaint more justified a 
century ago than it is to-day. "Society would drop a man who 
should run around the Common in five minutes/' declared Oliver 
Wendell Holmes, 1 but thousands flocked to watch some one else 
run to witness a horse-race, a boat-race, or a professional foot- 

The failure of the increasing mass of urban dwellers, of what- 
ever class, to get outdoors themselves did not mean that the 
American people had lost the Anglo-Saxon love for sports. The 
rise of cities had broken the traditional pattern of recreational 
life. Restrictions of time and space, the limitations imposed upon 
people crowded into small living areas without parks or open 
spaces, did not permit the familiar games and athletic contests of 
village life. And organized sports to replace these informal pas- 
times were a long time in developing, discouraged by those social 
influences which in every direction were holding up the normal 
expansion of recreation. 

Nevertheless, the commercial amusements whose rise we have 
traced could not wholly satisfy the needs of men who uncon- 
sciously missed tihe wrestling match, the shooting contest, the 
foot-race, in which they themselves might have taken part or at 



least watched their friends and neighbors. Theatrical entertain- 
ment did not offer the excitement of competition, of taking sides, 
of betting; it did not get one out of doors and into the open. 
A people whose attitude was greatly influenced by the traditions 
of a pioneering frontier life were restless under city restraints. 
Until they found the escape-valve of new sports for themselves, 
they eagerly took up the next best thing. If they could not play 
or compete, they could at least get the thrill of vicarious partici- 
pation by cheering on their favorites from a grand stand. 

Crowds ranging from twenty to fifty thousand, made up of all 
members of society, were consequently turning out as early as 
the 1820's for widely heralded horse-races, for the regattas held 
at cities along the Atlantic seaboard, and for the grueling five- 
and ten-mile races of professional runners. The available stands 
would be packed, the overflow spreading to every point of 
vantage. A contemporary newspaper reporting on a foot-race in 
1835 declared that "it would have required the amphitheatre of 
Titus to have accommodated all" 2 

The eagerness for such amusements was a striking manifesta- 
tion of changing times. "Every new attraction gathers its count- 
less throng," an Englishman commented on visiting New York 
in 1842, "as if the people had no other occupation than sight- 
seeing, though it is well known that they are among the most 
constantly occupied and busiest people in the world." 3 

How explain this apparent paradox? The city crowd was com- 
posed of many elements quite unknown in that earlier period 
when virtually the entire population lived in the country. If a 
majority of all classes were employed in various mercantile and 
manufacturing pursuits, there were always large numbers un- 
employed or at least temporarily not working. Periods of de- 
pression threw men out of jobs; every city had its influx of 
immigrants and country boys looking for work which took some 
time to materialize even under the best conditions; and the sea- 
sonal nature of much employment accounted for a good deal of 
leisure despite the long hours of labor generally prevailing. Also, 


city life inevitably created a class of ne'er-do-well floaters and 
professional sport followers who swelled the ranks of the tem- 
porarily idle. 

All this was new. It gave rise to many problems. These restless 
crowds, with so few opportunities for healthy recreation, made 
up the mobs through which democracy often attempted to assert 
its rights. The rougher elements hung around the bar-rooms. 
They frequented the so-called sporting-halls where cock-fights 
were staged, dogs pitted against each other, and "rat worries" 
held. They supplied the recruits for a sporting fraternity known 
as "the fancy** (from which the word fan is derived), as ready 
to bet on a yacht-race as on a back-room game of faro or 
chuck-a-luck. They furnished material for the city's notorious 
gangs. They populated the underworld. And while commercial 
sports were a far from adequate answer to problems created 
by the new conditions of urban life, they were at least better 
than saloons and pool-rooms for the army of discontented ready 
for anything that promised to satisfy their thirst for amusement. 

In general, the sporting events of the period were professional 
affairs, put on, like any other form of public amusement, for 
profit. Proprietors of the resorts beginning to spring up on the 
outskirts of the new cities and owners of transportation facilities 
stage-coaches, ferries, and, later, the railroads were the pioneer 
sports promoters. Even before they erected grand stands and 
collected admission charges, they could make money by bringing 
large numbers of people together for any sort of race. There were 
the fares collected for ferry or omnibus service, and the profits 
from drinks and refreshments. The new sports were promoted 
much as the tavern sports of an earlier day had been, with the 
further aid of professional gamblers who would put up money 
purses for the chance to bet. 

Barnum never applied his talents to this field, but he tells of 
one venture which reveals the indirect profits, entirely apart 
from possible admission charges, to be made from staging such 
outdoor performances. Happening to pick up a herd of about 


fifteen calf buffalo in the summer of 1843, he organized a great 
buffalo-hunt and western-sports spectacle which was to be held 
in New Jersey "on the extensive grounds and race course of the 
Messrs. Stevens, within a few rods of the Hoboken Ferry." It 
was widely advertised that no admission would be charged, and 
in enthusiastic response to such an exceptional opportunity for 
a free show some twenty-f our thousand persons crossed the Hud- 
son to watch the sport. The buffaloes, as it turned out, were sick 
and frightened; they could hardly be goaded into any action at 
all. But the twenty-four thousand enjoyed their excursion never- 
theless. Profits? "I had engaged all the ferry boats to Hoboken," 
Barnum wrote in his autobiography, "at a stipulated price, and 
all the receipts on the day specified were to be mine." 4 

HORSE-RACING, with its traditions going back to early colonial 
days, was the first of the popular spectator sports. Widely pro- 
hibited in the early years of the century, it gradually came back 
into favor, and city crowds naturally turned to the highly or- 
ganized meets which replaced the more informal rural races. 
New courses were established throughout the country, with 
enlarged grand stands for paying customers. The early impetus 
for racing had largely come from the desire of breeders to im- 
prove their stock, but a broader popular interest caused The Spr# 
of the Times, the most important journal devoted to the sport, 
to declare in mid-century that racing was now mainly, if not 
exclusively, intended for the public amusement. 5 

Every one went to the races, from the President (John Quincy 
Adams as well as Andrew Jackson) to newsboys. There was the 
gambling fraternity, referred to by Frank Leslie's Illustrated 
Newspaper as "this racing world this huge agglomeration of 
gambling and fraud, of weakness and wickedness"; the fashion- 
able race-track followers "galaxies of beauty and booty"; and in 
addition thousands of everyday working people. The more strait- 
laced could never countenance racing: it was damned forever by 


the betting. But at the new Fashion Course things were so well 
managed that Leslie's stated in 1856 "that families can visit the 
races with propriety and have no fear of their sensibilities being 
shocked by improper exhibitions." 6 

The crowds that attended the Union Course on Long Island 
were the largest at any track. A series of North-South matches 
held there aroused a nation-wide excitement which drew visitors 
from all over the country. In 1823 a crowd variously estimated 
at from fifty to one hundred thousand, including some twenty 
thousand out-of-town visitors, turned out to see the famous race 
between Eclipse and Sir Henry which has come down in sport- 
ing annals as one of the great events of the century. It was for 
a purse of $20,000 a side, to be decided by two out of three 
four-mile heats. When the northern horse, Eclipse, won the final 
heat, the huge crowd went wild. The air was now rent with 
shouts of extacy from the New Yorkers, and the press around the 
judges* stand for a short time was so great that nothing could 
overcome it." 7 

Later races drew almost as many spectators. When Fashion 
and Peytona met in 1845, a wide-eyed reporter from the Herald 
(which brought out extras between the heats) informed his 
paper that fifty thousand persons had crossed the East River by 
noon, while the roads were still so densely packed with omni- 
buses and hacks that many of the spectators would never get 
near the course. 8 Another time transportation facilities appear 
to have been even more seriously overtaxed. "The tens of thou- 
sands of the sovereign people who wished to see this race/* a 
spectator wrote, "made their arrangements to go by railroad from 
the South Ferry, but the numbers were so great that the loco- 
motives refused to draw. They balked and would not go ahead; 
the mob who had provided themselves with tickets, finding it 
was 'no go* became riotous, upset the cars, placed obstructions 
in the rails, and induced all sorts of violence." g 

Racing flourished in all parts of the country except New 
England. The South and West were great centers for the sport. 


1 t* 





kit/ Safoli- d 01 

'Hie Old Gray Mare of Long Island" at St Louis, 1851, in her nineteenth 

year still doing the mile in 2;33 to siy. Painting by R. S, Hillman in the 

collection of Harry T, Peters, 


And if the best-known courses after those of New York were 
at Washington, Louisville, Cincinnati, and New Orleans, other 
widely scattered tracks held race meets which became a dis- 
tinctive feature of community life. Those at Nashville, Tennessee, 
drew immense crowds from all the western country. When 
Andrew Jackson's Truxton beat out Captain Joseph Erwin's 
Ploughboy, the future President declared there was on hand 
"the largest concourse of people I ever saw assembled, unless in 
an army." 10 The races of even the small towns beyond the 
Mississippi were drawing considerable crowds by the 1850's. The 
Wichita Eagle reported one at which over a thousand men were 
present "besides some five carriage loads of soiled doves." ai 

Even more popular than running races was the distinctively 
American sport of trotting matches. In addition to their place on 
the schedules of all regular tracks, they had become by mid- 
century almost the most important feature of country fairs. 
Even New England welcomed this sport. At a trotting car- 
nival and horse show held in Massachusetts in 1856 there was 
a daily attendance of thirty thousand, including "the very cream 
of the Boston population.** 12 Thousands upon thousands who 
cared not a whit for running horses were eager spectators. 
Among others, such famous trotters of the period as Tacona, 
Lady Suffolk, and Flora Temple were known the length and 
breadth of the land; the most famous of sulky-drivers, Hiram 
Woodruff, was a national hero. As the record for the mile was 
progressively lowered to under 2:20 minutes, an English expert 
simply refused to believe it had been done. "I apprehend no 
horse ever did, or could trot over the measured English mile in 
that short space of time," he scornfully wrote. "From the ex- 
tensive rapidity of his trot his feet would be apt to strike fire and 
set him ablaze." 13 

ROWING and sailing regattas had a very unusual place in the life 
of the times. While many of the boat-races were for sweepstakes 


and involved heavy betting on the merits of the rival craft as well 
as rival crews, amateur contests brought out tremendous crowds 
which found them a thrilling spectacle. Members of the clubs 
that staged these events were of the wealthy class. The Castle 
Garden Amateur Boat Club Association was restricted, in the 
1830*8 and 1840's, to "young men of the highest respectability, who 
were determined to combine with pleasure the utmost propriety 
of conduct." 14 Membership in the yacht clubs even more in- 
evitably meant social position.. But tradespeople and mechanics 
who could never expect to pull an oar in a racing-barge or hold 
the tiller of a sailing-yacht were perfectly free to watch their 
regattas. A race in Boston, calling out eighty-odd entries; a 
match between two lap-streak gigs from among Philadelphia's 
forty rowing clubs; the races of oarsmen in Baltimore, Charleston, 
New Orleans; a long-heralded contest between one of New 
York's eight-oared barges and a boat from St. John's, Newfound- 
landall these events meant crowded water-fronts. 15 

In 1824 a boat-race in New York harbor for a $1,000 purse 
attracted a throng estimated by the Evening Post at fifty thou- 
sand. The victory of the winning Whitehall boat was acclaimed 
as a baseball world's championship might have been a century 
later, its crew appearing at the Park Theatre to receive a tre- 
mendous ovation. 16 Some years later a regatta of the New York 
Yacht Club, which was organized in 1844, found the harbor 
filled with excursion steamers and other craft, all with "densely 
packed masses of pleasure seekers," while the piers of lower 
New York, Jersey City, and Staten Island were crowded with 
"multitudinous and vociferous citizens/' 17 In mid-century the 
fever spread to inland cities Chicago, Pittsburgh, St. Louis 
and regattas at such widely separated points as Portland, Maine, 
and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, were watched by twenty thousand to 
thirty-five thousand spectators. 18 

"The beauty and the fashion of the city were there, 9 * reads the 
description of a regatta at Louisville on July 4, 1839; "ladies and 
gentlemen, loafers and laborers, white folks and 'niggers/ steam- 


boat cooks, scullions, cabin boys, mates, passengers, and cap- 
tains, and all the paraphernalia of a city life on an Independence 
Day, formed the constituent parts of the heterogeneous mass that 
stood jammed and crowded upon the levee.'* 19 And that same 
year a spectator at the annual regatta at Newburgh, New York, 
wrote of how "the innumerable windows of the Warehouses and 
Factories were crowded with ladies . . . every piazza and house- 
top was stirring with animated beauty the locks and steamboats, 
and the rigging of sloops and schooners, were all crowded with an 
indescribable mass of men, women and children of all ranks 
and all ages." 20 

THE FOOT-RACES were wholly professional events, and the runners 
of the day (pedestrians as they were called) had large numbers 
of followers who gambled heavily on their prowess. The races 
were at first run through city streets, men on horseback riding 
ahead to open lanes through the dense crowds of onlookers, but 
their popularity soon led to their being moved to race-courses 
where admission could be charged. Great excitement was aroused 
in New York in 1885 by the offer of a $1,000 purse for any man 
who could run a ten-mile course in under an. hour. 'Without 
intending it by any means," wrote Philip Hone, "when I arose 
this morning I found myself with Robert in the barouche, en- 
veloped in clouds of dust ... on the road to the race course, 
jostled by every description of vehicle, conveying eveiy descrip- 
tion of people." He thought the total attendance approached 
that at the race between Eclipse and Sir Henry, although it was 
probably nearer twenty or thirty thousand. When one of the 
nine starters completed the course in just under the stipulated 
hour, the crowd went wild, while the winner jumped on a horse 
and rode triumphantly around the track. 21 

Individual match races, growing out of challenges flying back 
and forth among the professional runners, were most common, 
"Thomas Wood, of East Cambridge,'* reads a typical announce- 


ment in the new sporting journal, the New York Clipper, in 1856, 
"will run Joe Travis, three or five miles for $250 a side. Man and 
money ready at Adams Billiard Hall." There were scores of 
popular champions: Henry Stannard, the man who had run the 
ten-mile event in under an hour; William Jackson, the American 
Deer, who was disastrously defeated by the English runner John 
Barlow; the Welsh Bantam, the Worcester Pet, the Boston Buck, 
the Bunker Hill Boy. . . . Each "ped" had his own colors a gaily 
hued shirt, and in one case red shoes tipped with blue. 22 

PRIZE-FIGHTING was not really a spectator sport in this period: 
"We are not yet fashionable enough," Niles* Weekly Register 
commented sarcastically, "for such things in the United States.'' 23 
But despite the brutality which everywhere placed it under 
official ban, fights surreptitiously staged by "the fancy" were 
beginning to attract ever-widening notice. The champions were 
winning a popular following for all the disapproval voiced by 
the more respectable elements of society. 

"The amusement of prize fighting," again to quote Philip Hone, 
that estimable diarist of so many phases of New York life, Tias 
become one of the most fashionable abominations of our loafer 
ridden city. Several matches have been made lately. The parties, 
their backers, betters, and abettors, with thousands and tens of 
thousands of degraded amateurs of this noble science, conveyed 
by steamboats chartered for the purpose, have been following the 
champions to Staten Island, Westchester, and up the North River, 
out of the jurisdiction (as was supposed) of the authorities 
of New York; and the horrid details, with all their disgusting 
technicalities and vulgar slang, have been regularly presented in 
the New Yorfc Herald to gratify the vitiated palates of its readers, 
whilst the orderly citizens have wept for the shame which they 
could not prevent" 24 

There was no denying the brutality of old-style bare-knuclde 
fighting. It was as cruel as the gouging match of the frontier, 

i; ; vfeX :;';, i. 

' " ' '&'$'" ;?'.'. '" 

Boat-Race on the Charles River, Boston 
Ballou's Pictorial Drawing-Room Companion, 1857. 

A Great Foot-Race at Hoboken 
Illustrated London News, 1845. 



sometimes quite literally being a fight to the death. A con- 
temporary account tells of one bout in which for almost three 
hours two bruisers "thumped and battered each other for the 
gratification of a brutal gang of spectators," until after being 
knocked down eighty-one times, one of them fell dead in the 
ring. 25 There was no science in this fighting: a pugilist's greatest 
asset was his ability to take punishment. With little thought of 
self-defense, his one object was to pummel the other fellow into 

Police regulations forced secrecy upon the promoters, and 
actual attendance at the bouts was consequently small. It was not 
until some time after gloves were substituted for bare fists and the 
Marquis of Queensberry rules had been adopted that prize- 
fighting was legally approved. When Yankee Sullivan and Tom 
Hyer fought their championship bout in 1849, they had to hold 
it in the woods on Maryland's Western Shore, having been driven 
away from the chosen site, Peel Island, by a boatload of militia. 
A few years later the fight in which Hyer lost the championship 
to John Morrissey was held under equally furtive circumstances, 
while the latter's successful defense of his title against John C 
Heenan, "Benicia Boy," took place before two thousand spec- 
tators who had sailed over from Buffalo in three steamers to a 
point on the Canadian border. 26 

The growing attraction of prize-fighting, with its primitive 
appeal even for those who were shocked by its brutality, was 
graphically displayed on the eve of the Civil War in tibe universal 
interest aroused by Heenan's challenge of the English champion, 
Tom Sayers. Although he had not beaten John Morrissey, the 
latter's retirement from the ring left TBenicia Boy" undisputed 
champion, and the good wishes of all America followed him to 
England. His name was on everybody's lips Concord philos- 
opher and Nevada miner, New York newsboy and Ohio farmer. 
What were his chances? Could he stand up against Sayers? 
"Benicia Boy 9 * himself was confident. Vanity Fair published his 


111 wind our colors 'round my loins 
The blue and crimson bars 

And if Tom does not feel the stripes, 
111 make hire see the stars! 27 

The country breathlessly awaited the outcome. It was inde- 
cisive. Historians of the prize-ring still quarrel over who might 
have won if the crowd had not broken up the fight in the forty- 
third round. But TBenicia Boy" was the hero of the day. The 
Spirit of the Times, getting out an extra edition of one hundred 
thousand copies with the first report of the fight, hailed him as 
the world champion. 28 

Upon his return to this country Heenan began giving boxing 
exhibitions. They drew the crowds that prize-fighting itself could 
not command because of its illegality. In Boston some twelve 
thousand persons turned out to see the champion, while a boxing 
festival he staged at Jones Woods, outside of New York, attracted 
thirty thousand, 26 

THESE spectator sports of the first half of the nineteenth century, 
harbingers of the tremendous development of this type of amuse- 
ment in later years, were at best but a poor substitute for games 
or athletic contests in which the spectators themselves might 
have actively participated. But again it must be remembered 
that city crowds a century ago had no ready means for getting 
out into the country either by street-car or automobile. Our 
whole modern organization of sports, together with parks and 
public playing-fields, was completely unknown. The idle city 
worker who did not spend the afternoon at the race-track, watch- 
ing a boat-race, or cheering his favorite "ped" was driven to some 
indoor amusement. The habit of watching professional athletes 
fastened itself upon the city dweller a century ago because he 
had almost no other alternative for daytime recreation. 

These spectator events nevertheless helped to make possible 
the rise of modern organized athletics and the public participa- 


tion of later decades. The interest in professional running in the 
1840 T s provided the impetus for the growth of amateur athletic 
organizations in the ISTO's. The crowds drawn to regattas created 
an ever-widening interest in rowing and sailing. The immense 
vogue for trotting matches inspired every horse-owner to see if 
he could not develop a champion; it crowded the roads, town 
and country, with drivers always ready for a "brush" with friend 
or neighbor. Even pugilism led in time to the development of 
boxing as a popular pastime for young men and boys. These 
activities of a century ago promoted the audience habit, but they 
also played their part in maintaining an interest in sports for 
themselves which was soon to have a phenomenal flowering. 


broader opportunities for recreation among the -well-to-do. 
They began to give increasingly elaborate balls and entertain- 
ments. When Charles Dickens landed in New York, the great 
Boz Ball "the tallest compliment ever paid a little man, the 
fullest libation ever poured upon the altar of the muses/* as 
Philip Hone described it was attended by twenty-five hundred 
persons representing the world of society. The decorations were 
scenes from Pickwick Papers, and tableaux vivants were pre- 
sented of Nicholas NicJdeby, Oliver Twist, and The Old Curi- 
osity Shop, Supper was enlivened with quantities of champagne. 
It was an occasion typifying a new measure of sumptuous dis- 
play in American social life. 1 

There was also a growing enthusiasm for yachting, inspired 
by the memorable victory of the America in the first interna- 
tional cup race; an increasing vogue for driving in summer and 
sleighing in winter; and greater interest in field sports. Game- 
hunting had always been popular in the South. It had long been 
commended in Baltimore for drawing the young gentlemen of the 
town into the open fields "where no man ever contracted 
dyspepsia, or imbibed an ignoble passion." Wealthy eastern 
sportsmen and visiting Englishmen now went to the Far West 
to shoot elk and buffalo. 2 

More significant was the beginning of pleasure travel and the 
growth of summer resorts- New turnpikes and canals, the steam- 
boat and tie railroad, -were working revolutionary changes in 
American life which affected recreation as well as business and 



industry. In 1825 the appearance of a little booklet called 'The 
Fashionable Tour" had signalized the new trend, and Timothy 
Flint declared that the better classes were carrying their desire 
for travel "to a passion and a fever." 3 It was soon possible for 
even the less well-to-do to undertake trips of which an earlier 
generation would hardly have dreamed. "There is scarcely an 
individual in so reduced circumstances," marveled one foreign 
visitor, "as to be unable to afford his 'dollar or so/ to travel a 
couple of hundred miles from home, in order to see the country 
and the improvements which are going on.** 4 

The establishment of summer resorts came as a direct result 
of these improved means of transportation, and the fashionable 
world rapidly made them popular. It flocked to the new watering- 
places, turning what had been quiet little havens for invalids 
into bustling social centers. Nahant, near Boston, began to ad- 
vertise "its sports and fare" for vacation visitors. Newport re- 
sumed its role of colonial days, attracting a larger and larger 
summer population until in mid-century the New York Herald 
disagreeably declared that "fashion, handmaid of vice, has set 
her seal upon the escutcheon of this town." New Jersey offered 
Cape May and Long Branch. New York had the most fashionable 
of all resorts of this period in Saratoga Springs, where 

Hotels of vast Extent at length arose, 
In whose capacious bosoms were receiv'd 
Of guests the copious streams, that hither flow'd 
From various regions. . . , 6 

Easterners were naturally in a majority among the visitors at 
these resorts, but every westerner with social aspirations labored 
under the necessity of staying for a time at one of them, and the 
wealthy plantation-owners of the South made a virtual hegira 
north every summer. Until the bitterness aroused over the slavery 
issue caused them to stay at home, at some such southern resort 
as White Sulphur Springs, some fifty thousand southerners were 
said to visit the northern states annually. 8 


Many of these visitors were not so much seeking rest or amuse- 
ment as the establishment of their position in the social world. 
Resort life reflected the confused gropings of society toward a 
new order, and itself contributed to the decline of former dis- 
tinctions. The elegant hotels at Saratoga or Newport attracted 
people who formerly would have vacationed in the country only 
at exclusive house-parties, and the socially ambitious saw their 
opportunity. "Hundreds, who, in their own towns could not find 
admittance into the circles of fashionable society," James Silk 
Buckingham observed in 1838, ". . . come to Saratoga where . . . 
they may be seated at the same table, and often side by side, 
with the first families of the country." 7 

On the deep verandahs of the huge, sprawling Congress House 
or United States Hotel (accommodations for two thousand), on 
the neat gravel walks cutting across Saratoga's well-mowed 
lawns, might be seen "the fairest sample of the better class 
throughout the United States. . . . What bustle, and display, and 
expense, and frivolity!"* The frock-coated Washington poli- 
tician tipped his tall silk hat to modish ladies in billowing hoop- 
skirts; the smart New Yorker in tight-fitting trousers and flowery 
waistcoat, inordinately proud of his curled whiskers, bowed to 
blushing southern belles in beribfaoned satin bonnets. "All the 
world is here," marveled Philip Hone on visiting Saratoga in 
1839; "politicians and dandies; cabinet ministers and ministers 
of the gospel; officeholders and office seekers; humbuggers and 
humbugged; fortune hunters and hunters of woodcock; anxious 
mothers and lovely daughters; the ruddy cheek mantling with 
saucy health, and the flickering lamp almost extinguished be- 
neath the rude breath of dissipation." 9 

Flirtation was a major amusement. The Courting Yard was 
an institution at Saratoga; White Sulphur Springs had its "Billing, 
Wooing and Cooing Society." There was not much else to do. 
Cards and backgammon, bowling and billiards were possible, 
but none of the outdoor sports to-day associated with the sum- 
mer resort. Exercise was still unfashionable. There was not even 

A Yachting Club on Ule Erie 

an unknown artist, about 1870, owned by A, Hyatt Mayor. 
Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of' Art, 


the horse-racing of a later day. The gentlemen whiled away long 
hours in smoke-filled bar-rooms over their gin slings, sangarees, 
sherry cobblers, and mint juleps. The ladies were relegated to the 
piazza, or possibly allowed an afternoon carriage drive. Nowhere 
were the restraints of the Victorian era, the respect for female 
delicacy, more rigidly observed. "Our amusements were simple 
and distinctly ladylike," Eliza Ripley recalled of resort life at 
Pass Christian, on the Gulf of Mexico. "There was no golf or 
tennis, not even the innocent croquet, to tempt the demoiselles to 
athletics." 10 

Two French visitors found this life unutterably dull. "People 
rise early,'* Achille Murat wrote of Saratoga, "go and drink, 
or make believe drink, of the water at the fountain; return to 
breakfast in common; the papas and mamas are ready to die 
with ennui all the day; the young ladies play music, the young 
gentlemen make love to them; from time to time some excursion 
is made in the neighborhood; in the evening comes dancing. 
People are very soon tired of this sort of life. 11 Michael Chevalier 
even more devastatingly summarized a day's program at Bedford 
Springs. He wondered how its visitors could get any possible 
satisfaction out "of gaping on a chair in the piazza the whole 
day; of going arms in hand (I mean the knife and fork) to secure 
their share of a wretched dinner; of being stifled in the crowd of 
the ball-room during the evening, and of sleeping, if it is possible, 
upon a miserable pallet in a cell echoing one's tread from its 
own floor of pine boards." 12 

The evening hop or Saturday-night ball nevertheless made up 
for a good deal of the day's deficiencies. The introduction of such 
exciting new dances as the waltz and the polka had given the 
ball-room a new popularity. Although there was shocked criti- 
cism from those who clung to puritanic traditions, the pulpit 
holding forth bitterly "against the abomination of permitting a 
man who was neither your lover nor your husband to encircle 
you with his arms, and slightly press the contour of your waist," 13 
these importations won their way into society. The New York 


Herald might rave about "the indecency of the polka as danced 
at Saratoga and Newport It even outstrips the most disgrace- 
ful exhibitions of the lowest haunts of Paris and London," 14 
but the floor would be crowded on a Saturday night The com- 
pany whirled away the evening in grand style until it settled 
down to its midnight supper of champagne, ice-cream, and 

At the shore resorts there was one diversion that such 
watering-places as Saratoga lacked. This was sea bathing. Oc- 
casional references to it may be found in earlier days. A Mr. 
Bailey planned to institute "bathing machines, and several species 
of entertainment" at his resort on Long Island in 1794. 15 A few 
years later a hotel proprietor at Nahant advertised ^a machine of 
peculiar construction for bathing in the open sea." 16 But not until 
much later were the first daring steps taken toward popularizing 
it as a sport for mixed company. 

An early record of this is found in a description of Long Branch 
written by James Stuart in 1829. "Because of the swell," wrote 
the circumspect Mr. Stuart, "females are often afraid to venture 
into the sea with a female bathing woman, and on that account 
prefer the assistance of a man. This custom, which is very far 
from being general, has given rise to ill-founded stories of want 
of delicacy on the part of American females. The fact -is, I be- 
lieve, exactly as I have stated it, and the parties always go into 
the water completely dressed.** 1T 

A few years later a correspondent of Frank Leslies Illustrated 
Newspaper described the costumes that accounted for Stuart's 
phrase, "completely dressed." "Some wear Bloomers, buckled 
nattily about the waists, with cunning little blue-veined feet 
twinkling in the shallow water/* he wrote; "some are wrapped 
in crimson Turkish dressing gowns, and flounder through the 
water like long-legged flamingoes; and others in old pantaloons 
and worn-out jackets.** Bathing-suits, it would appear, had not 
yet been invented, and after lunch there was a gentleman's hour, 
as our correspondent phrased it, "sans costume.** 1S 


Prejudice against mixed bathing gave way slowly. But soon 
visitors to Newport told of parties of ladies and gentlemen dash- 
ing out "hand in hand, sometimes forty of them together, into 
the surf upon the beach." They described with engaging en- 
thusiasm how the men "handed about their pretty partners as if 
they were dancing water quadrilles. 7 * 19 "I do not believe, 7 * a 
writer in the New York Herald lyricaHy reported in 1853, "that 
Franconi's Hippodrome ever presents a gayer, more grotesque 
and animated scene than I witnessed. Hundreds of bathers, 
clad in garments of every shape and color green, blue, orange 
and white were gaily disporting before me, and within a few 
yards of my window. The blooming girl, the matronized yet 
blushing maiden, the dignified mamma, were all playing, danc- 
ing, romping, and shouting together, as if they were alive with 
one feeling. I noticed several ladies of admirable shapes ____ Oh! 
ye happy waves, what a blissful destiny is yours, when you can 
enclasp and kiss such lovely forms. 7920 

IN THE MISSISSIPPI VALLEY the flush times of mid-century were 
marked by a spirit of boisterous gaiety which held its ground 
firmly against the pressure of those civilizing influences curbing 
the old sports and diversions of the frontier. 21 The Great River 
was an artery for amusements as well as commerce. Palatial 
steamers made their perilous way back and forth between St. 
Louis and New Orleans, their passengers gaily dancing on the 
hurricane-deck and gambling in the saloon; gaudy show-boats 
the Snow Queen or the Fanny Elssler tied up eveiy night at 
village landings, with uniformed bands announcing their coming, 
and traveling entertainers of every kind brought to the river 
towns dazzling visions of the outside world. Farce and melo- 
drama, musical extravaganza, elaborate minstrel shows, were 
staged in the gilded concert-saloons. Less ambitious entertainers 
went from town to town by smaller steamer. Aboard one of 
them Thackeray saw a bearded lady who in shipboard life 


delicately concealed her hirsute growth beneath a red silk hand- 
kerchief. 22 

In the 1850's some two thousand professional gamblers were 
operating on the river boats. 23 There has always been a great 
deal of gambling in American life, from colonial lotteries to the 
present-day policy-game, but never has this major diversion 
flourished so mightily as in those booming days of the Mississippi 
Valley. Faro, monte, and chuck-a-luck were the favorite card 
games. Poker had been introduced by way of New Orleans and 
was soon to make its way still farther west For those who wanted 
to lose their money with even less effort, the steamers had their 
full quota of three-card monte-throwers, dice-coggers, and 
thimble-riggers. The Mississippi River travelers do not seem to 
have ever caught on to the old shell-game. 

They'd just flutter them up like a flock of quail," one traveler 
wrote of the skilful way the gamblers handled their cards, "and 
get the aces, kings, queens, jacks and tens all together as easy as 
pie. A sucker had no more chance against those fellows than a 
snow-ball in a red-hot oven." 24 But it was not entirely skill. 
The professional gentlemen of chance freely availed themselves 
of the wares advertised by a certain Monsieur Grandine: "Advan- 
tage and Marked-Back Playing Cards ... an exact imitation of the 
fair Playing Cards in use, and are adapted for bluff or poker, 
Seven-Up, Forty-Five, Euchre, Cribbage, Vingt-et-un, or Twenty- 
One, Loo. . . .** Monsieur Grandine was also obligingly ready to 
provide "sleeve machines" which held the cards in a most nat- 
ural manner and allowed them to slip out perfectly noiselessly. 25 

The gamblers had a well recognized costume black slouch 
hat, broadcloth coat, flowing tie, black high-heeled boots, white 
shirt elegantly frilled and ruffled, gaudy vest, and invariably a 
large diamond in the shirt-front and a massive gold watch and 
chain. They were the aristocrats of the river, making fortunes in 
fleecing the innocent, and then as promptly losing them at faro 
establishments in New Orleans. One of the best-known of them, 
George H. Devol, has left in his Forty Years a Gambler on the 


Mississippi an engaging record of adventures which often in- 
volved hasty dives overboard when his victims discovered they 
had been tricked. Usually he was ready to defend himself, "I 
was always very stubborn," he admits, "about giving up money if 
any one wanted to compel me to do it," On one occasion his 
victim tried to call his bluff: "He took off his coat, and after he 
got it off he weakened, and picked up a big iron poker that lay 
by the stove. I pulled out old 'Betsy Jane/ one of the best 
tarantula pistols in the Southern country. , . ." And so Mr. Devol 
kept his winnings. 

Three-card monte always got them, ministers and all, this 
hardened soul declared. "I caught a preacher once for all his 
money, his gold spectacles, and his sermons. Then I had some 
of those queer feelings come over me ... so I gave him his 
sermons and specs back." 26 

Away from the river there were other amusements political 
rallies, horse-races, dancing assemblies, the theatre, and traveling 
shows from eastern cities. 27 The local paper of one small Ohio 
town recorded the visit of Swiss bell-ringers, an exhibition of dis- 
solving views by the aid of a magic lantern, "the inimitable 
Winchell," a panorama of the Mississippi Valley half a mile long 
and twelve feet high, "J. H. Green, Reformed Gambler, with 
card tricks," Joe Ginger's Minstrels, and "Moxon & Kemp's Great 
Eastern Circus, Five Nations, and a Steam Calliope drawn by 
forty horses." 2S 

The moving panorama, exhibited not only in western towns 
but in eastern cities, was almost the equivalent of the later-day 
moving picture. The Mississippi Valley exhibition just noted 
toured the entire country, was advertised in New York as one of 
the great attractions of the age, and disappeared from the Amer- 
ican scene only when it was taken abroad, to Europe and the 
Far East, for still further conquests. Many others were widely 
known: the "Classical Panorama of Roman Histoiy," the "Sacred 
Panorama of Pilgrim's Progress," the "Moving Mirror of the 
Overland Route to California." The long rolls of painted canvas 


were slowly unwound before admiring audiences as a lecturer 
described the background for the scene depicted. In the dioramas 
these scenes were made to change and dissolve into each other 
by means of cloth transparencies and complicated overhead light- 
ing effects. 29 

On the sod-house frontier, opening up in Kansas and Nebraska, 
life was incredibly hard bitter winters with sweeping snow- 
storms, summers of searing drought, devastating plagues of 
locusts, and always the terrible isolation of the prairies. Strong- 
willed settlers struggled against immense odds to build a familiar 
life against an unfamiliar background. But they early had their 
amusements. Lawrence, Kansas, had a bowling-alley within a 
few months of its being sacked in the free-soil struggle; the 
People's Press of Nebraska City declared a few years later that 
"the fever is now for billiards." 80 There was a theatre of sorts 
at Leavenworth in 1858 which welcomed to its boards a minstrel 
show, the New England Bards, a troupe of saxhorn players, and 
a circus. 

Marked differences, of course, still existed between East and 
West, between the long-serfled communities on the Atlantic sea- 
board and these rapidly growing states of the Mississippi Valley. 
But improved means of transportation and closer communications 
gradually promoted a uniformity in modes and manners which 
was directly reflected in amusements. Whatever was in vogue 
in commercial entertainment in New York or Philadelphia 
eventually made its way west; social life in western cities and 
towns aped that of eastern cities as much as it could; and as 
other forms of recreation developed on the seaboard, they, were 
rapidly transferred to the Mississippi Valley and beyond. 

THE SOCIAL UFE of the South throughout the first half of the 
nineteenth century, and until the outbreak of the Civil War, is 
generally viewed through a haze of romantic glamour. The pat- 
tern is all too familiar: gay young couples dancing on the 


Sleighing in New York 

Lithograph by Nagel and Lewis, composed and lithographed by Theodore 
Benecke, 1855. Courtesy of Harry T. Peters. 

A Home on the Mississippi 

Painting by an unknown artist, about 1850, owned by Mrs. Alice T. 
M'cLean. Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum' of Art. 

The Turkey 

Painting by Charles 
Deas, about 1836, 
Rutherford Stuy- 
vesant Collection. 
Courtesy of the 
Metropolitan Mu- 
seum of Art. 


colonnaded porches of the "big house" as moonlight floods 
through the magnolia trees; race meets and fox-hunts; barbecues 
and oyster suppers; the cool tinkle of mint juleps . . . and carefree, 
happy slaves singing spirituals as they picked the cotton that 
made possible this leisured, luxurious way of life. 

With what acute nostalgia did Thomas Nelson Page, only one 
of a host of reminiscent southern writers, look back upon such 
scenes. Here is a gay picnic, carriages laden with "precious loads 
of lily-fingered, pink-faced, laughing girls with teeth like pearls 
and eyes like stars," and gallant riders bursting with southern 
chivalry "who would have thrown not only their cloaks but their 
hearts into the mud to keep these dainty feet from being soiled." 
The social life of Dixie? "It made men noble, gentle and brave, 
and women tender and pure and true. ... It has passed from the 
earth, but it left its benignant influence behind it to sweeten and 
sustain its children. The ivory palaces have been destroyed, but 
myrrh, aloes and cassia still breathe amid their dismantled 
ruins."* 1 

It is true that there were a grace and dignity, and at the same 
time a gay spirit, about life in the ante-bellum South which were 
swept away in the cataclysm of civil war. The comfortable mode 
of living and easy acceptance of everything that contributed to 
amusement had continued over from colonial days on the great 
plantations. "Leisure and ease are inmates of his roof," one 
northern visitor wrote of the southern aristocrat "He takes 
no note of time. Your Yankee will take time by the forelock, 
and push business through. But a Southerner never heard of the 
'old man with a scythe/" And he went on to note that under 
these circumstances, so foreign to the bustling life of the North, 
recreation played a different role. Where life had a more definite 
pursuit, it was perhaps not so necessary "but here, where one 
finds golden leisure, amusements are indispensable." 82 

Other records tell of these amusements. Heniy Barnard, a 
young northerner visiting in a southern family, wrote home 
enthusiastically of the lavish hospitality at "Shirley," the planta- 


tion of Hill Carter on the James River. 33 Susan Dabney Smedes 
has depicted in glowing colors the life at "Burleigh," in Missis- 
sippi, with its music and dancing, charades and cards, riding and 
driving. 8 * Herbert Ravenel Sass recalls the house-parties, the 
deer-hunts, the chivalric tournaments (costumed knights jousting 
with their ladies' colors on their sleeves), which enlivened the 
long, languorous days on South Carolina^ rice plantations. 35 For 
the wealthy planters in all parts of the South, and especially in 
those states newly carved out of the western wilderness to grow 
the cotton which brought them such dazzling prosperity, life had 
a flavor in mid-century known to no other part of the country. 

But it concerned only that small group at the apex of the 
pyramid that made up southern society. It was no more typical 
o Dixie than the crowded ball-rooms of Saratoga were represen- 
tative of recreation in the North. What of the great mass of 
southern yeomanry, small farmers still working their own land? 
What of the poor whites, that pitiful class of "vagrom-men, idlers, 
and squatters, useless to themselves and the rest of mankind**? 
And what of the slaves? The majority of people in the South 
had little direct contact with the life of the great plantations. 
Nowhere were class lines drawn more rigidly; nowhere was there 
a greater gulf between the different strata of society. 

The statistics of that "peculiar institution" on which southern 
life was based rudely shatter many legends. At the close of the 
ante-bellum period, some three-fourths of the white population 
had no proprietary interest in slavery whatsoever. They were 
humble folk, largely engaged in grubbing out a living on their 
own small farms, in bitter competition with the slave labor they 
could not themselves command. There were in all only some 
fifty thousand estates on which there were as many as twenty 
slaves. The entire planter class totaled but a quarter of a -million 
among the South's eight million, white population. 86 

The slaves and the poor whites it is difficult to say which 
class should be considered as the lowest order of society could 
enjoy only such amusements as their owners or abject poverty 


permitted them. In the case of the former, conditions greatly 
varied. They often went out with their masters on moonlight 
'possum- and 'coon-hunts; they were among the spectators at 
horse-races and cock-fights. On many of the plantations they 
were given free rein on such festive occasions as holidays or 
weddings to enjoy themselves with music and dancing, with 
contests in clogging, cakewalks, and Charlestons. To see a group 
of them on the floor/' wrote an entranced northerner, "or on the 
lawn, beneath the shade of the China-trees, when 

Hornpipes, jigs, strathspeys and reels 
Put life and mettle in their heels 

whirling in the giddy mazes of the dance with their buxom 
dulcineas, each seeming to vie with the other in dancing the 
most; it is one of the finest specimens of animated nature I ever 
gazed upon. . . . No restraint of the etiquettish ball-room . . . 
whew! They'd burst like steamers. . . . What luxury of motion, 
what looks breath ing and sighs! what oglings, exclamations and 
enjoyment! This is dancing. It knocks the spangles off your light 
fantastic tripping, and sends it whirling out of the ball-room." 3T 
Sometimes a Baptist revival would induce the Negroes to 
forswear dancing and music "I done buss' my fiddle an' my 
banjo, and done fling 'em away" but there was no restraining 
them for very long. God could not blame them for such simple 
amusements. The Negro preacher explained it in his Christmas 

Des dance befcase dey's happylike de birds hop in de trees, 
De pine-top fiddle soundin* to be blowin* ob de breeze. 38 

Wherever the master did not approve, however, there would 
be no dancing and no banjo-playing in the slave quarters, no 
time for hunting or fishing. In many instances the slaves were 
harshly or cruelly treated, deprived of much more than the 
opportunity to play. That is the other side of the picture of 
plantation life in old Dixie. But even where they were well taken 


care of and allowed such amusements as did not interfere with 
their work, there could be no real freedom for enjoyment. The 
pleasures of the slave were always wholly dependent on the will 
of his owner. 

The poor whites had the leisure and freedom that the blacks 
so often lacked, but their leisure was born of complete poverty 
and unwillingness to work. They were the forgotten men in this 
thriving Kingdom of Cotton, isolated in the pine-barrens or the 
back-country mountain areas. The chronic disease that made 
them so lazy and apathetic, that drove them to become clay- 
eaters, was not then recognized as hookworm. Fanny Kemble 
sorrowfully characterized them as "the most degraded race of 
human beings claiming Anglo-Saxon origin that can be found on 
the face of the earth." 89 "Even their motions are slow, and 
their speech is a sickening drawl," wrote D. R. Hundley, a good 
Alabaman, ". . . while their thoughts and ideas seem likewise to 
creep along at a snail's pace. All they seem to care for is to live 
from hand to mouth; to get drunk ... to shoot for beef; to attend 
gander pullings; to vote at elections; to eat and sleep; to lounge 
in the sunshine of a bright summer's day, and to bask in the 
warmth of a roaring fire, when summer days are over." 40 

Here were amusements, perhaps, but the amusements of idle- 
ness and debility. They did not awaken in the dulled minds of 
the poor whites any zest for living. Among the slum outcasts of 
the industrial North might be found men and women for whom 
life offered as little as it did for these unfortunates. But there 
was this marked difference: the North was slowly awakening 
to the needs of its depressed classes; the South was blind to the 
degraded status of the poor whites. 

Between the wealthy planter and the Mississippi hillbilly or 
Florida clay-eater there was an impassable gulf. The self- 
respecting southern yeoman, sometimes working in the fields 
side by side with a Negro slave whom he either owned or hired, 
had at least some opportunity. He might conceivably make his 
way into the planter class. But in his own life he had little con- 


tact with his social superiors. Susan Dabney Smedes recalled 
that the Christmas egg-nog party that was always given at 
"Burleigh" for the overseer and "other plain neighbors" was one 
of the few occasions when plantation life and that of the small 
farmers overlapped.* 1 

For these people, bound to the soil and hard pressed to earn 
a livelihood, hunting and fishing were still the most universal 
recreation. They also had their occasional farm festivals corn- 
shuckings and cotton-pickings enlivened by persimmon beer or 
jugs of whisky and annual country fairs and militia musters. 
There were horse-races and cock-fights, sometimes a circus or 
other traveling entertainment The latter were rare. In the little 
town of Tarboro, North Carolina, there was but one such show 
in 1832, and twenty years later only five three concerts, an ex- 
hibition of curiosities, and a circus. Many of the frontier customs 
lingered on in the back country. Rough sports and heavy drink- 
ing vied with the camp-meeting. 42 

One pastime peculiar to this part of the country was gander- 
pulling. The Dutch settlers in New York had practised this sport, 
and there was to be a later variation of it on the western prairies, 
but here it had a much stronger hold among the common people. 
A well greased gander was strung head down from the over- 
hanging bough of a tree. One by one the contestants, mounted 
on horseback, would ride full speed under the struggling bird, 
trying to seize it by its slippery neck as they tore by. The man 
who made off with the goose's head was declared the winner. A 
contemporary record describing gander-pulling in North Carolina 
declares that it was "anticipated with rapture by all bruisers 
either at fist or grog, all heavy bottomed, well balanced riders, 
all women who wanted a holiday and had the curiosity to see 
the weight and prowess of their sweethearts tried in open 
field." 43 

Augustus Baldwin Longstreet singles out dancing as a fa- 
vorite amusement. In his Georgia Scenes he describes the dinner 
out under the trees, the old Negro sawing on his fiddle, the awk- 


ward farm boys and fresh-cheeked girls. It was all simple and 
wholesome. The women "used no artificial means of spreading 
their frock-tails to an interesting extent from their ankles. They 
had no boards laced to their breasts." As for the dances them- 
selves, "none of your immodest waltzes; none of your detestable, 
disgusting gallopades." 44r 

Sometimes there were plank dances. "You stand face to face 
with your partner on a plank and keep on dancing," a countryman 
explained to one visiting northerner. "Put the plank up on two 
barrel heads, so itTl kind of spring. At some of our parties 
that's among common kind o' people, you know, it's great fun. 
They dance as fast as they can, and the folks all stand around and 
holler, 'Keep it up, John!' 'Go it, Nance!* 'Don't give it up so!' 
'Old Virginny never tire!' * 'Eel and toe, ketch a-fire!' and such 
kind of observation, and clop and stamp 'em." 45 

Diversions of this character represented the recreation of the 
people of the South more faithfully than the formal balls, the 
fashionable picnics, the chivalric tournaments of the planters. 
But the opportunities to enjoy them were few and far between. 
The common man had a hard time. For him the slavery that 
brought wealth and leisure to the aristocracy meant a more 
narrowly circumscribed life, greater toil, and even less chance 
than had the small fanners of the North and West for real 
amusement Not for him the frosted julep on a shaded porch; he 
was busy picking cotton. 

THROUGHOUT the land, holidays were a great occasion in the 
mid-century years. In town and country, east md west, these in- 
frequent breaks in a life which for the worldngman might still 
mean twelve hours' daily labor for six full days a week were 
seized upon with a zest that this age can hardly appreciate. 
They meant far more than they do in a day when every week- 
end is free for recreation, and they were enj'oyed in great crowd 


A parade almost invariably led off the day's festivities. Every 
one turned out the militia companies in their handsome uni- 
forms, the patriotic societies and political clubs, the volunteer 
firemen in glistening helmets and flaming red shirts. The gen- 
eration of the 1850's was fascinated by parades; a band stirred 
urban crowds even more than it does to-day. At election time 
and there was no more exciting holiday the streets of every 
town and city would be filled with rival marchers. Torch-light 
parades added a new zest to the absorbing game of politics 
which neither young nor old could resist. On other occasions the 
crowds gathered to watch and cheer military parades with a 
fervor which was the essence of the period's intense nationalism. 
There was no artificiality, no regimentation, about the public 
demonstrations of the young democracy. 

In the cities the parade was often followed by a mass- 
meeting or public banquet; in the rural areas there were picnics 
and barbecues to which the entire countryside flocked. Scores 
of aspiring Daniel Websters orated eloquently to the great 
crowds gathered on New England village greens; innumerable 
Davy Crocketts attempted to spellbind their audiences as the 
oxen roasted at frontier barbecues. Hogsheads of punch or 
rum or whisky were consumed in toasts to the Universal Yankee 
Nation. Horse-races, impromptu sports, dancing to patriotic 
airs, were throughout the entire country a prelude to the night's 
fireworks displays. 

The urban dweller also had his amusement park. The social 
world was being forced to share its near-by country retreats with 
working people. On a visit to Hoboken's Elysian Fields, Fanny 
Kemble was amazed to find the resort crowded with people 
from a quite different stratum of society from that of her own 
party. "Journeymen, labourers, handicraftsmen, tradespeople, 
with their families, bearing all in their dress and looks evident 
signs of well-being and contentment," she wrote, "were all flock- 
ing from their confined avocations into the pure air, the bright 
sunshine and beautiful shade of this lovely place." ** There was 


no parallel in England to such a scene. It went far toward recon- 
ciling Miss Kemble to the crudities of American democracy. 
Children played on the swings, visited the bear dens, and enjoyed 
Punch and Judy shows as their parents picnicked and listened 
to the band music. The fastidious Samuel Dexter Ward noted 
"that there were a great many people here, male and female, but 
in my opinion few respectable ones/* 47 The exclusiveness of an 
earlier day was gone. 

Steamboat excursions enjoyed an immense popularity. Sir 
Charles Lyell noted that the passengers on Hudson River boats, 
on week-days as well as holidays, were veiy largely shopkeepers, 
artisans, and mechanics taking pleasure trips. 48 Horace Greeley, 
worrying over the $10 weekly budget of a New York working- 
man, wondered where he could get the money for his Sunday 
trip up and down the river to get some fresh air. Here was a 
new means of recreation, and the common man was taking full 
advantage of it. 49 

The New York Herald advertised dozens of holiday excursions 
for which the fare was never more than $1.00. One could cruise 
to Coney Island, already starting on its career as a popular resort, 
for fifty cents, visit the Lower Bay and Staten Island for twenty- 
five cents, and sail up river from the Battery to Harlem for 
twelve and one-half cents. Sometimes the excursions were or- 
ganized by special groups. The Shamrock Benevolent Society 
and the Laborers* Union Benevolent Society had annual Inde- 
pendence Day outings. On one occasion the Thistle Benevolent 
Society gave a Grand Excursion and Cotillion Party aboard the 
steamboat Robert L. Stevens and an accompanying barge. The 
moonlight return down the river from West Point, the barge's 
deck cleared for dancing and the band playing gaily, rockets 
cutting their flaring paths of light across the sky, was a fitting 
climax to a day of enthusiastic festivities. 50 

Balloon ascensions drew great crowds. They may be traced 
back to the close of the eighteenth century, when President 
Washington was an eager spectator at Blanchard's stirring flights. 

T/ie Fashionable Singing Class 

Leslie's Gazette of Fashions, 1862. 

The Dance 

Lithograph by E. B. and E. C. Kellogg, about 1852. Courtesy of 
Harry T. Peters. 


In the 1830*8 Charles F. Durant was charging fifty cents admission 
for "the inspiring spectacle" of his embarkation. As the band 
played, he distributed copies of an appropriate poetical address, 
stepped into the cage of his balloon, and, waving an American 
flag, started aloft to the booming of guns. Some years later John 
Wise had become the popular aeronaut. He provided twenty 
thousand seats at the scene of ascension, including in the price 
of admission souvenir watches and jewelry. 51 

Every place of entertainment in the cities would be filled on 
holidays. People crowded the open-air gardens to hear band 
music and watch the fireworks. In New York's City Hall Park 
scores of booths would be set up to cater to holiday needs. Here 
were roast pig and spruce beer, lemonade and boiled eggs, 
lobsters and mint juleps, myriads of pies and cakes. The band 
played, and again there were free fireworks. 53 

Public balls, the populace's equivalent for the assemblies and 
cotillions of society, were coming into favor. The popular clubs 
vied with each other in staging entertainments for which gen- 
eral admission might range from twenty-five cents to $1,00, the 
latter price usually including a gentleman and two ladies. Mr. 
Parker's ball at Tammany Hall, the Third Ward American Re- 
publican Ball at the Minerva Assembly Rooms, the Native Amer- 
ican Ball at the Park Theatre, were New York affairs, but they 
had their counterpart in every town and city throughout the 
country. 53 

Less respectable were the dance-halls "branches of Satan's 
den," the puritans termed them; the cheap variety shows, twelve 
cents admission with refreshments; the free and easy concert- 
saloons, which became especially popular in Philadelphia; and 
the beer-gardens where the growing German population was 
giving the country a taste for lager beer. These were the amuse- 
ments already beginning to shock rural communities the dread- 
ful lure of the wicked city; but they were a part of the recreation 
of great masses of the people. 54 

Of all the holidays, democracy took over especially for its own 


the Fourth of July. On this day of all others it paraded with 
riotous enthusiasm, cheered itself hoarse, drank a thousand pa- 
triotic toasts; listened eagerly at banquets, barbecues, and picnics 
to the flamboyant oratory of an age which could get drunk almost 
as easily on words as on whisky; crowded the circus tent, 
museum, minstrel show, and popular theatre; overran the amuse- 
ment parks and packed the holiday steamboat excursions; 
watched horse-races, sailing regattas, and pedestrian races; 
danced on the open prairie, at country taverns, and in crowded 
city dance-halls; fired off cannon and watched the sly redden 
with the fireworks of a nation still young enough, careless 
enough, exuberant enough, to take the keenest joy in this fervid 
expression of patriotism and high spirits. 

The American people never indulge in a holiday? Too ab- 
sorbed in money-making to let themselves go? The caustic Eng- 
lish critics of the first half of the nineteenth century must have 
shut themselves into ivory towers on the Fourth of July. The 
crowd of ladies and gentlemen, loafers and laborers, white folks 
and "niggers," who jammed the Louisville levee to watch an Inde- 
pendence Day regatta; the two thousand people who gathered 
on the Nebraska plains for a barbecue and night-long dance, 
feasting on enough buffalo, venison, sheep, hogs, and pigs to have 
fed the whole territory; the holiday seekers overrunning the 
swings, flying deer, bowling-alleys, and target ranges of city 
amusement parks were they too dull-spirited and depressed 
ever to enjoy themselves? 

Tit was remarkable for the general turn out of all classes, 
ages, sexes, and conditions," the New Yorfc Herald ecstatically 
reported of one Fourth of July celebration; "it was remarkable 
for the most splendid pageant ever displayed in this city since 
the war; it was remarkable for the extraordinary amusements and 
recreations of the day, not the least of which was the exhibition 
of the tall, the graceful, the majestic, the beautiful giraffes; and 
for the elegant display of beautiful women that grouped within 
the pleasure gardens of Niblo, at Vauxhall, at Castle Garden, at 


the Museums, at the Theatres, or at the Cotillion parties, in the 
numerous aquatic excursions in the evening.** 55 

Not enjoy themselves? The American people were gradually 
breaking down the one-time exclusive barriers in the world of 
amusements. Michael Chevalier had declared democracy to be 
"too new a comer upon the earth to have been able as yet to or- 
ganize its pleasures and amusements.** It was doing so now, as he 
had advised, without regard to the aristocratic precedents of 
Europe. The gospel of work still gave a popular sanction to long 
hours of labor. Holidays were few and far between. Nineteenth- 
century puritan ism continued to disapprove the theatre, dancing, 
card-playing, and many other amusements. But the common 
man's need for recreation was asserting itself. 


would be complete without some record of the rough-and- 
ready life in that new West -which was growing up during the 
troubled years that saw the rest of the country convulsed by 
civil -war and then largely absorbed in the problems of Recon- 
struction. Its vivid story has often been told in -western dime 
novel, melodrama, and moving picture. They have portrayed in 
lurid colors the roaring, -wide-open days -when drunken cowboys 
rode their horses into the saloons and shot out the lights, suave 
professional gamblers dealt out poker hands with guns on the 
table, and pistol-shots punctuated the dance music as flannel- 
shirted miners sported at hurdy-gurdy or honky-tonk. 

It is true that the whisky-mill, the gambling-palace, and the 
dance-hall dominated recreation. There was little to amuse the 
solitary miner prospecting among the ravines and gulches of 
the Sierras, the cowboy riding the range or driving cattle north 
from the Texas plains. Their pleasures were almost entirely cen- 
tered on their occasional visits to civilization. For six months or 
longer they worked hard, lived in the open, and never saw a 
woman. "When they hit the bright lights of some little town that 
looked like gay Paree to them, they just went crazy.** x With 
silver dollars jingling in their pockets, crying to be spent, they 
needed only a haircut and shave, a new outfit of clothing, and a 
few drinks to be ready to go. 

Whoopee! drink that rotgut, drink that red nose. 
Whenever you get to town; 
I>rink it straight and swig it mighty, 
Till the -world goes round and round. 2 


Cowboy or prospector, they were all alike. "It is he that bucks 
at Monte; plays draw-poker; fights the tiger; patronizes the 
Hurdies; sings like a Washoe canary/" Dan De Quille wrote 
of the western miner; "it is he who first sees the peep of dawn- 
through the bottom of a tumbler through the same cocks his eye 
on the last smile of evening." 3 

LIFE in the gold-fields of California during the feverish days 
that followed Forty-Nine has been graphically portrayed (dis- 
counting their sentimentality) in The Luck of Roaring Camp" 
and The Outcasts of Poker Flat." A few years later similar 
scenes were being enacted in the camps that sprang up in 
Nevada, Montana, Idaho, and Colorado. 4 At the same time the 
larger mining-towns which grew up around the more important 
gold and silver deposits offered entertainment even more typical 
of this violent era. 

The most fantastically extravagant of them all during the 
entire period from 1860 through 1880 was Virginia City, Nevada. 
The Comstock Lode yielded in these two decades treasure esti- 
mated at $300,000,000, and some twenty-five thousand people, 
almost entirely men, worked and played on that barren moun- 
tainside with an intensity hardly paralleled in any other com- 
munity of the West. 5 The narrow streets were always crowded 
with quartz wagons taking the mines* daily output to the reduc- 
ing mills, and freight teams laden with supplies which had been 
brought over the long mountain road from California. Stage- 
coaches were setting off or arriving almost hourly in front of 
the hotels; riders of the Pony Express dashed madly through 
the tangled traffic; and sometimes a string of camels might be 
seen laboriously packing salt up the steep trails. 

Mark Twain was in Virginia City during the height of its boom 
as a reporter on the Territorial Enterprise. He found it "the 
livest town, for its age and population, that America had ever 
produced." He was fascinated by its carefree, gambling spirit, 


by all its color and movement "There were military companies," 
he wrote, "fire companies, brass bands, hotels, theatres, Tiurdy- 
gurdy houses/ wide-open gambling palaces, political pow-wows, 
civic processions, street fights, murders, inquests, riots, a whisky 
mill every fifteen steps . . . and some talk of building a church!" 6 

The miners who thronged every thoroughfare had only one 
objective when their long, back-breaking shift was over enter- 
tainment Over a hundred saloons were ready to aid them. The 
more pretentious "two-bit* houses (every kind of drink cost a 
quarter) were the most sumptuous establishments in town long 
mahogany bars, glistening chandeliers, a bright fagade of mir- 
rors, showy pictures in heavy gilded frames. No expense was 
spared to enable the miners to drink and gamble in as garish 
an atmosphere as the easy money of Virginia City could provide. 

Faro, roulette, monte, and poker had their devotees* Another 
game was keno. TFIine glame," was the Chinaman's reputed com- 
ment "Velly slimple. Dlealer slay TOeno,' and ellybolly ellse 
slay *O Hlefl!' " 7 After one house had experimented by having 
on hand "a real living, pretty, modest-looking young girl, in a 
close-fitting black silk dress," the custom spread of having female 
croupiers and dealers, through whom thousands of dollars 
changed hands nightly without causing comment. 8 Gambling 
was so much a part of the life of the mining-town that everything 
about it was taken for granted. 

The hurdy-gurdy houses were a favorite resort. In a com- 
munity where women were so scarce, their popularity may well 
be imagined. An eastern visitor reports that they were not all 
given over entirely to the usual personnel of such establishments. 
Such respectable women as the town might boast frequented 
some of the dance-halls, and they were invariably treated with 
deep respect. But more generally standards were not maintained 
on such a high level. "Four girls, about fifty men, an Irish fiddler, 
a bar-keeper and a bar, constituted the outfit," reads the descrip- 
tion of one cheap house. "The gents were charged fifty cents 
each for a dance with the fair damsels, and after the dance were 


required to pay a like sum at the bar for drinks for themselves 
and their partners. . . . Gambling, prostitution, dancing and drink- 
ing were sometimes combined." g As in the case of saloons, the 
more expensive hurdy-gurdies had the most luxurious fittings. 
The dance-floors were highly polished, the music was provided 
by a full orchestra of skilled musicians, and the assorted collection 
of available ladies rivaled that of any eastern dance-halL 

Amusement of another kind was provided in Virginia City by 
prize-fights. The keen interest they aroused among the miners, 
supplemented by the betting and drinking, sometimes led to 
critical situations. But though a disputed decision often found 
the patrons hauling out their guns, the Territorial Enterprise 
(was it Mark Twain's phrase?) could usually report that the 
referee "failed to be killed." 10 

"A rush was made into the ring to break up the fight in a 
general row so that the bets might be declared off," an alarmed 
easterner wrote of one disputed prize-fight, "and instantly fifty 
pistols clicked and were drawn. . . . Colonel Beidler at once 
sprang into the ring, drew his revolvers, and declared that he 
would kill the first man who attempted to interfere with the 
fight. All well understood that when Beidler's pistol was drawn 
it meant business; and the ring was almost instantly cleared, 
leaving him standing alone in the center. TJoys/ said he, 'this 
must be a fair fight Go on with the show!* and time was promptly 
called again." X1 

There were occasionally other sports. Many of the miners 
were Cornishmen (it was a mixed population of all nationali- 
ties), and their canvas-jacketed wrestling matches were a pop- 
ular spectacle. Sunday horse-races were held on the one level 
spot on the mountainside; rifle- and pistol-shooting contests 
sometimes took place; and members of the Virginia Alkali and 
Sagebrush Sporting Club chased coyotes with greyhounds on 
Forty-Mile Desert But sooner or later every one came back to 
gamble at the Eldorado, dance at the Melodeon, and drink at the 
Sazerac, the Delta, or the Howling Wilderness. 12 


"The Comstock is an improving place to live on," declared 
the Gold Hitt News of December 7, 1876. "Both Gold Hill and 
Virginia are well supplied with schools, and there is no lack o 
churches. We have more saloons than any pkce in the country. 
Every Sunday when there is a show in town we have a matinee 
and an evening performance. On the Sabbath, also, we are 
entertained with a horse-race or a fight between a bulldog and 
a wildcat. Every month or so the prize-fighters favor us with a 
mill, which we all go to see and then indict the fighters, as a 
sort of concession to the Puritanical element. . , . Every Saturday 
night small boys parade up and down the principal street of 
Virginia, carrying transparencies which inform our sport-loving 
people where cockflghring may be enjoyed. Faro, keno, chuck-a- 
luck and roulette may be found in every second saloon, and a 
special policeman, wearing his star, frequently conducts the 
game. Taking everything into consideration, there are few pleas- 
anter places to live than on the Comstock." 13 

THEATRICAL entertainment had had an unusual popularity in 
the mining-camps, indeed throughout the West, since the Cali- 
fornia gold-rush. It brought the miners glimpses of a world 
from which they were otherwise completely cut oft Nowhere did 
strolling players, minstrel bands, variety shows, and straight 
dramatic companies win a more enthusiastic reception. In no 
other part of the country had the theatre come "into such un- 
chastened, free and abundant life." " The miners showered gold- 
dust with equal abandon upon the quavering soprano who 
touched their sentimental hearts with her rendering of "When 
the Swallows Homeward Fly," and upon Edwin Booth (he was 
listed in the San Francisco directory of the 1850's as "comedian 
and ranchero* 15 ) in his early performances of Hamlet. They 
cheered themselves hoarse when the beautiful heroine was 
finally rescued in a Broadway melodrama, and brushed away the 
tears as they watched a juvenile troupe of Fairy Minstrels. 


San Francisco had its first real theatre when the Jenny Lind 
was opened in 1850, some two thousand miners packing pit and 
gallery for a performance of Macbeth. Many stars of the eastern 
stage trod its boards: Junius Brutus Booth as well as the young 
Edwin Booth, Laura Keene, Catherine Sinclair (the divorced 
wife of Edwin Forrest), Lola Montez, the glamorous Countess 

of Landsf eldt who had been mistress of the King of Bavaria 

A favorite of the western stage was California's own star, Lotta 
Crabtree. She first played as a child actress in mining-camp 
bar-rooms, wandering through the mountains with her mother 
in a wagon drawn by tasseled mules. "La Petite Lotta," singing 
"Young Ladies, Won't You Marry?" and dancing her famed 
Spider Dance, early won her way into the miners* hearts. 16 

In Virginia City's flush days there were five legitimate theatres 
and six variety houses running at the same time. At Maguire's, 
and later at Piper's Opera House, the plays were representative 
of everything being staged in the East Here were seen Shake- 
spearean revivals and other serious dramas; Irish farces, Italian 
light operas, and sentimental comedies; Victoria Loftus* British 
Blondes; Haverly's Mastodon Minstrels; Tom shows with double 
quartettes of educated hounds; and French dancers in the wicked 
can-can. Also lectures Horace Greeley talking on the state of 
the nation, Artemus Ward on "Babes in the Wood." 1T 

The sensational Adah Isaacs Menken won a triumph in 1863 
which is reserved for few actresses. The miners went mad over 
her beauty, her incomparable voice, her daring. When she ap- 
peared in Mazeppa, or The Wild Horse, an excited audience 
cheered and applauded to the echo. The climax of this stirring 
melodrama is reached when the heroine is strapped to the side 
of the wild horse to be driven off into the mountains. The 
Menken, wearing only a slight gauze chiton, played the part 
with an abandon which had the miners standing on their chairs. 
When the horse dashed up the rocky mountain trail with her 
beautiful, almost naked body lashed to its flank, pandemonium 
broke loose. 


Virginia City had never been so thrilled It christened a new 
mining district The Menken and organized a Menken Shaft and 
Tunnel Company, When their dazzling heroine finally left, she 
was laden down with the bars of bullion, silver ingots, certificates 
of mining stock, with which the admiring miners had expressed 
their homage. 18 

IN THE cow COUXTRY of the 1870's and 1880's the men who rode 
the range often got to town only once or twice a year. Their 
periodic binges were far less frequent than those of the miners 
who worked and lived at Virginia City, or those of the gold 
prospectors in the Sierras. They had a great deal of time on 
their hands. But as one of them phrased it, they were "merely 
folks, just plain, every-day, bow-legged humans," 1S and they 
sought every possible means of whiling away the tedium of long 
days in the saddle and empty evenings at camp or ranch-house. 

The pride they developed in their horses made them eager to 
meet any challenge as to their speed, and the impromptu horse- 
race was as popular a sport on the range as in any other phase 
of frontier life. The cowboy was ready to bet anything he owned 
(except perhaps his saddle) on such races. He seldom had 
money, but he would put up his bridle, his rope, his quirt, 
sometimes the horse itself. Rival outfits would stake everything 
tibey could collectively raise on a match between two favorite 
horses. When a cowboy met a friendly Indian, there was invari- 
ably a race, sometimes leaving one or the other to go his way on 

The range-rider always had his six-shooter with him, and he 
amused himself by taking pot-shots at the jack-rabbits, prairie- 
dogs, or occasional coyotes that crossed his trail. Sometimes he 
gave chase to game with a swinging lariat Cowboys would at- 
tempt to rope anything that came their way. They tried their 
skill on buffalo calves, went after antelopes, and sometimes even 
roped bears. There is the tale of one cowpuncher who made the 

The Hurdy-Gurdy House at Virginia City, Montana 
Albert D. Richardson, Beyond the Mississippi, 1867. 

Cow-Town Vaudeville 
Cheyenne, Wyoming. Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, 1877. 

Sucking the Tiger 

Faro in a Cheyenne 

gambling saloon. Frank 

^Leslies Illustrated Xezr.s- 

papcr, 1S7T. 

Cowboys in Town for Christmas 
Drawing by Frederic Remington. Harper's Weekly, 1889. 


experiment of throwing his rope over the smokestack of a loco- 
motiveand was almost jerked to eternity. When wolves were 
discovered attacking the cattle, a hunt would be organized with 
the pack of greyhounds that many ranches kept on hand for 
just such occasions. All hands would turn out for what was 
exciting sport, as well as a necessary measure for protection of 
the stock. 20 

The cowboy played no competitive games. He never wrestled 
or boxed. They appeared futile sports when any physical en- 
counter was generally settled by the sharp crack of a revolver. 
But foot-races were sometimes held. Although the object of the 
race was to reach a certain spot in the shortest possible time, 
this did not mean following a straight line when run on the 
western prairie. To offset the handicap of the bow-leggedness 
which revealed the real horseman, the course would be plotted 
over the most difficult terrain. Cunning in avoiding the hazards 
of sage-brush and gopher-holes, rather than mere speed, was 
the real test 

The cowboy sang a great deal to mitigate his loneliness while 
riding the range or to soothe and quiet the cattle on the drive. 
In his collection of cowboy songs, John A. Lomax has told of 
their part in the social life of the ranch. Whenever a puncher 
from another outfit drifted into camp, he was expected to sing 
any new song he knew or additional stanzas for an old one. 21 
Plaintive love songs, sentimental ditties, and sorrowful dirges 
grew into a balladry of the plains which has taken its place as 
one of the most distinctive forms of American folk-song. With 
incredible pathos the cowboy sang "The Home I Ne'er Will Live 
to See," "Oh, Bury Me Not on the Lone Prai-rie/ 7 and Tm a 
Poor, Lonesome Cowboy." 

Sometimes the tune was livelier: 

Whoopee ti yi yo, git along, little dogies; 

It's your misfortune and none of my own. 
Whoopee ti yi yo, git along, little dogies; 

For you know Wyoming will be your new home. 


At night about the camp-fire there was always some one in 
the outfit with a banjo, mouth-organ, or jew's-harp. They would 
sing The Old Chisholm Trail," *Ten Thousand God-Damn Cat- 
tle," The Gal I Left Behind Me ," or "The Little Black Bull": 

The little black bull came down from the mount-tain 

(Hoorah Johnny and a hoo-rah Johnny) 
The little black bull came down from the mount-tain 

Long time ago, a long time ago, a long time ago 
And he run his hom in a white oak sap-ling 

Long time ago. . , . 22 

Apart from singing, evenings afforded little entertainment 
Night after night, for weeks and months on end, the same little 
group of men sat about trying to kill time. They knew each other 
far too well every idea, every trick of language, every irritating 
peculiarity to get much pleasure from their own company. Men 
without women became touchy and quarrelsome. Long hard 
hours in the saddle, a monotonous diet of miserably cooked 
canned goods, made for frayed nerves and a readiness to take 
offense which often left the atmosphere electric. 

The scene was seldom the gay, roistering one of fiction. 
Drinking was very rare, for the simple reason that the cowboys 
had no liquor. When some one did bring whisky into camp, it 
would not last long. Nor was there much gambling. The ranch 
bands generally spent all their money on their periodic trips to 
town and had nothing with which to bet Dreary and apparently 
endless games of poker or seven-up nevertheless went on, with 
packs of cards so greasy from use that only those who knew 
them personally could guess what they were. More exciting were 
the occasional fights in which tarantulas were matched against 
each other much as favorite cocks had been on the earlier frontier. 
A champion spider was a much-prized possession, carefully 

How far monotony ruled the ranch-house is illustrated by the 
popularity of those contests in which the cowboys recited the 


manufacturers* labels on their tins of canned goods. They read 
very little (a few magazines, seldom books) but would care- 
fully memorize the advertisements for condensed milk or baked 
beans. The eastern tenderfoot was sometimes amazed to hear the 
ranch-house suddenly break into a rapid singsong recital whose 
mysterious significance it often took him some time to discover. 

A visitor could always be sure of a warm welcome among men 
so starved for society. The cowboys would dig up whatever cash 
or mobile possessions they could find in a happy attempt to take 
in the newcomer at whatever game he chose. Should punchers 
ride in from some rival outfit, the visit would be celebrated as 
freely as all available resources in the matter of liquor would 
permit. When an innocent easterner happened upon that restless 
company, he was greeted with a cordiality which lost nothing 
from the fact that the cowboys were hoping to have as much fun 
as possible at his expense. They hazed not because of any in- 
herent cruelty in their nature, but because they were bored. 23 

The wild excitement of a day in town can be understood only 
against this background and in comparison with the almost un- 
relieved monotony of ranch-house leisure. It was little wonder 
that when the end of the round-up or drive gave the outfit a 
holiday, everything but the desire to have a good time was 
completely forgotten. The cowboy was out to enjoy himself, to 
make up for those long weeks whose amusements were so rare 
and unsatisfying. What if all his pay did disappear in a single 
night? He might not get to town for another six months. To 
gamble and drink away his money the one time he had the 
chance to spend it freely was unquestioned logic. 

The cow-town was created by the extension of the railroad 
across the western plains, becoming a central point for the 
shipment of cattle to eastern markets. It was often no more than 
a string of frame houses which had little excuse for existence 
except as an entertainment center for all those varied elements 
which went into the floating population of the plains-cowboys, 
ranchers, freighters, teamsters, hunters, storekeepers, government 


officials, half-breeds, gamblers, and professional bad men. Every 
one went armed. Brawls and shooting affrays were common. 
"The town was simply an eddy in the troubled stream of West- 
ern immigration," wrote Emerson Hough, "and it caught the 
odd bits of driftwood and wreck the flotsam and jetsam of a 
chaotic flood." - 4 

To cowpunchers and ranchmen who had seen nothing but the 
prairie and the members of their own outfit for seemingly end- 
less months, it was nevertheless full of high promise. They rode 
in booted and spurred, sometimes without fanfare but often with 
the wild yipping of the western thriller, and headed straight for 
the nearest saloon. "Buying the town" was in order if the outfit 
was really in money. A stack of silver dollars was planked down 
on the bar "Gents, it's on us. She's opened up. The town is 
yours." Until it was gone, drinks were free for anybody whatso- 
ever. There were instances of as much as $1,000 being spent on 
opening up a town, the saloon-keepers prorating the money until 
It had all been consumed in hard liquor. 25 

Many stories are told. One cowman walked into a restaurant 
and with a lordly gesture ordered a hundred dollars* worth of 
ham and eggs. Another had a champagne bath in the town's 
rickety little hotel. It drained the entire supply of every saloon, at 
five dollars a bottle, but the rancher's theory was a simple one. 
He wanted a bath, nothing was too good for him, and cham- 
pagne was the most costly liquid of which he knew. 26 

Gambling drew the cowboy as surely as it did the miner. Any 
game, any time, but poker was the great sport of the cow coun- 
try. Professional gamblers were always on hand, but there was 
not much cheating. The bad man caught with an ace up his 
sleeve got short shrift, as western thrillers have shown an 
admiring world, in a society where trigger fingers were so well 
exercised. "The click of a six-shooter is music to my ears, and a 
bowie-knife is my looking glass," was a favorite boast of the 
frontier. There came a time when the punchers were required to 
check their guns when they came into town, and the sheriff 


promptly took the bad man into custody, but in the early days 
little differences of opinion were decided in favor of whoever 
was quickest on the draw. 

If the possible favors of the fancy ladies were largely re- 
sponsible for the popularity of the dance-hall, the cowboy often 
made a straight course for it just for sociability and a good time. 
"Three of us was in the parlor of Maggie Burn's house giving a 
song number called "The Texas Ranger/ " Teddy Blue wrote in 
We Pointed Them North, "John Bowen was playing the piano 
and he couldn't play the piano, and Johnny Stringfellow was 
there sawing on a fiddle and he couldn't play the fiddle, and I 
was singing, and between the three of us we was raising the 
roof. And Maggie the redheaded, fighting son of a gun got 
hopping mad and says: Tf you leather-legged sons of bitches 
want to give a concert, why don't you hire a hall? You're mining 
my piano.'" 27 It is also Teddy Blue who tells of Connie the 
Cowboy Queen and her $250 dress; "They said there wasn't an 
outfit from the Yellowstone down to the Platte, and over in the 
Dakotas too, that couldn't find its brand on that dress." 2S 

For the few respectable women who found their way to the 
Far West the cowboy had an idolatrous respect Their rarity set 
them so far apart that one old-timer declared fervently that 
there were only two things a cowpuncher was afraid of, a decent 
woman and being set afoot 29 When an occasional ball was held, 
young and old, beautiful and plain, were treated with awed 
chivalry. Such functions were popular, and the cowboys gathered 
in full war-paintsilk handkerchief and fancy vest, chaps and 
spurs from a neighborhood of two hundred miles. Owen Wister 
has described such a dance in his story of how the Virginian 
mixed up the sleeping babies which had been parked for the 
evening in the woodshed. If there were not enough women to 
go around, which was usually the case, some of the cowboys 
would let themselves be "heifer-branded** with a handkerchief 
tied about the arm. 30 

At the end of the trail along which the cattle were driven 


north from Texas was Dodge City the Beautiful, Bibulous Baby- 
lon of tibe Frontier. There were other cow-towns Abilene, New- 
town, Ogalalla, Julesburg, Cheyenne where it took several 
generations of orderly living to blot out the unsavory reputa- 
tion of the early days, but Dodge City was reputedly the most 
wicked of them alL "Her incorporated limits," a local historian 
wrote, "are the rendezvous of all the unemployed scaUawagism 
in seven states*** 31 There might be seventy-five thousand head of 
cattle grazing in the surrounding meadows as they waited ship- 
ment east, and the Texas buckaroos who had driven them north 
packed the saloons and dance-halls which alternated with every 
business house on the town's crowded streets: 

It was hot July when we got to Dodge, 
That wickedest little town; 
And we started in to have some fun 
Just as the sun went down. 

We killed a few of the worst bad men 
For the pleasure of seeing them kick; 
We rode right into a billiard hall, 
And I guessed we raised Old Nick. 
The bartender left in a wonderful haste 
On that hot and sultry day; 
He never came back to get his hat 
Until we were miles away. 

We went from Dodge to the town Caldwell, 

As we wished to prolong the fun; 

When the marshal there caught sight of us, 

You ought to have seen him run. 

We rode right into a big dance hall 

That opened upon the street; 

The music and dancing both were fine. 

And the girlies sure looked sweet 

We drank all the Caldwell whisky, 
We ate everything in sight; 
We took in all the dances, 
And they say we had a fight 82 


THE LIBERTY and license of cow-towns and mining-camps did not 
last for very long. Once the civilization of the East Had caught 
up 'with it, the colorful excitement of the Far West quickly 
faded. More orderly government led to the regulation of its 
wide-open entertainment palaces, and the refining influence of 
women toned down the freedom of a man's world. But the 
West's exuberant spirit of fun, its refusal to allow itself to be 
cramped by traditional tabus, the spirit typified by the com- 
ment that while the church might be tolerated, the saloon and 
the dance-hall were regarded as necessities, had its influence on 
the attitude of the country as a whole toward work and play. 
It served to undermine still further the Puritan tradition and 
gave a new impetus to the expansion of recreation. 



VV gambling, drinking, and gun-play, a series of athletic 
crazes were sweeping through the states of the East. Baseball 
developed from its humble beginnings in the days before the 
Civil War to its recognized status as America's national game. 
The rapid spread of croquet caused the startled editors of The 
Nation to describe it as the swiftest and most infectious epidemic 
the country had ever experienced. 1 Lawn tennis was introduced 
to polite society by enthusiasts who had seen it played in Eng- 
land, and the old sport of archery was revived as still another 
fashionable lawn game. Roller-skating attained a popularity 
which extended to all parts of the country. What the sewing- 
machine is to our industrial wants and the telegraph to our 
commercial pursuits, one devotee wrote rapturously, this new 
system of exercise had become to society's physical and social 
wants. 2 

Track and field events were also promoted with the wide- 
spread organization of amateur athletic clubs; gymnastic games 
were sponsored both by the German Turnverein and the 
Y.M.C.A.; and in the colleges a spectacular sports phenomenon 
loomed over the horizon with the development of intercollegiate 
football. Society welcomed polo as an importation from abroad, 
took up the English sport of coaching. And finally a craze for 
bicycling arose to supersede all other outdoor activities as city 
streets and country roads became crowded with nattily dressed 
cyclists out on their club runs. 

All this took place in the'late 1860s and the 1870 s. Previously 



the country had had virtually no organized sports as we know 
them to-day. Neither men nor women played outdoor games. 
Alarmed observers in mid-century had found the national health 
deteriorating because of a general lack of exercise more wide- 
spread than among the people of any other nation. Ralph Waldo 
Emerson had written despairingly of "the invalid habits of this 
country," 8 and from abroad the London Times had issued grave 
warnings of possibly dire consequences for our national well- 
being. 4 No transformation in the recreational scene has been 
more startling than this sudden burgeoning of an interest in 
sports which almost overnight introduced millions of Americans 
to a phase of life shortly destined to become a major preoccu- 
pation among all classes. 

It was a phenomenon somewhat difficult to explain, but the 
first faint stirrings of popular interest may be traced to the 
decade before the Civil War. The decline of the informal sports 
associated with country festivals and frontier frolics, a conse- 
quence of the breaking-up of old forms of village association as 
the nation became more urbanized and of changes in farm 
economy which brought about the disappearance of such work- 
play occasions as the barn-raising and the husking-bee, had 
drawn attention to a parlous state of affairs. Many observers sud- 
denly realized that the spectator sports of the period were a sorry 
substitute for what was being lost. This was not so important for 
the rural population, but it affected the townsman very seriously. 
"Who in this community really takes exercise?" Thomas Went- 
worth Higginson asked in the first issue of the Atlantic Monthly, 
in 1858. TEven the mechanic confines himself to one set of mus- 
cles; the blacksmith acquires strength in his right arm, and the 
dancing teacher in his left leg. But the professional or business 
man, what muscles has he at all?" 5 

A campaign was started to break down the prejudice against 
sports as an idle diversion and to encourage more active partici- 
pation in outdoor games. "The Americans as a people at least 
the professional and mercantile classes," Edward Everett de- 


clared, "have too little considered the importance of healthful, 

generous recreation Noble, athletic sports, manly outdoor 

exercises . . . which strengthen the mind by strengthening the 
body, and bring man into a generous and exhilarating com- 
munion with nature . . . are too little cultivated in town or coun- 
try." 6 With far greater emphasis but on very much the same 
grounds the editor of Harper's Monthly Magazine and Dr. Oliver 
Wendell Holmes lent the weight of iheir authority to the new 
cause. The former held the want of sports responsible for turning 
young America into "a pale, pasty-faced, narrow chested, spin- 
dled-shanked, dwarfed race a mere walking mannikin to adver- 
tise the latest cut of the fashionable tailor.* 77 The Autocrat of 
the Breakfast-Table declared himself satisfied "that such a set 
of black-coated, stiff-jointed, soft-muscled, paste-complexioned 
youth as we can boast in our Atlantic cities never before sprang 
from the loins of Anglo-Saxon lineage." 8 

These diatribes bore some fruit in the 1850's. Skating was taken 
up so widely that the vogue for it became known as Higginson's 
Revival. Rowing grew so popular (Charles W. Eliot was on the 
Harvard crew) that the New York Herald declared that if the 
boating era should continue another five years, "the coming 
generation will relieve America from the odium of physical de- 
cline." e Nevertheless the flowering of sports awaited the post-war 
period, when they were given a primary impetus through being 
adopted by the world of fashion. The early rowing clubs had 
been composed of "young men of the highest respectability, 7 * 
but as the new games of the 1870's were introduced from Eng- 
land, for the rise of sports in the United States owed a very 
considerable debt to the sports revival in the mother country, 
it was more than ever society's leaders who first played them. 10 
The attempt was even made to monopolize them. Again and 
again the complacent statement may be found in contemporary 
articles in the better magazines that such and such a sport 
whether tennis, polo, or bicycling does not "offer any attractions 
to the more vulgar elements of society/* 11 But the real signifi- 


cance of fashionable approval of sports lay in the fact that it 
awoke the interest of democracy. The common man eagerly fol- 
lowed where the aristocrat led. He could not be kept from any 
diversion within his means. "We may turn up our noses gen- 
erally at those who in this country profess to lead fashions," 
Caspar Whitney, an early sports writer, declared some years 
later, **but in the matter of showing the way to healthy, vigorous 
outdoor play they have set a fine example and one that has taken 
a firm hold upon the people." 12 

A basic need for outdoor exercise to conserve national health 
and the sponsorship of social leaders thus served in large measure 
to break down the barriers that had formerly stood in the way 
of the development of organized sports. Games which could ap- 
peal to every one had at last been invented or developed. And 
a post-war atmosphere, in which the instinct for pleasure is 
naturally intensified, provided fertile ground for the growth of 
these new forms of recreation. It is perhaps not so surprising 
after all that within a short quarter-century of the day when 
one English visitor declared that "to roll balls in a ten pin alley 
by gas-light or to drive a fast trotting horse in a light wagon 
along a very bad and dusty road, seems the Alpha and Omega 
of sport in the United States, 7 * 1S almost every one of our mod- 
ern games was being played by a rapidly growing army of 
enthusiasts . 

THE PIONEER of them all, baseball, had evolved from the various 
bat-and-ball games that the early settlers had brought with them 
from England. A children's game actually known as base-ball 
had been played in the eighteenth century. It is noted in A 
Pretty Little Pocket Boofc, Intended for the Amusement of Little 
Master Tommy and Pretty Miss PoEy, which was first published 
in England in 1744 and soon after reprinted in this country. 
Jane Austen refers to it in Northanger Abbey?* Four-old-cat, 
rounders, and town-ball, each of which contributed something 


to baseball, were also being played in the early nineteenth cen- 
tury by young men and boys throughout the country. Samuel 
Woodruff, writing on amusements in 1833, speaks of New Eng- 
landers as being experts in such games of ball as "cricket, base, 
cat, football, trap-ball." 1S 

But there was no formality about these early games-no regu- 
lar teams, no accepted rules of play, no scheduled contests. 
Cricket was the only one at all organized. New arrivals from 
England almost invariably formed cricket teams. It was an 
occasional diversion in all parts of the country, played north 
and south and on the western prairies. It was most general in 
and about Philadelphia, where groups of English factory-workers 
pkyed weekly games. 16 But cricket never really took hold in 
America. Its leisurely pace could not be reconciled with a fron- 
tier-nourished love for speed, excitement, action. It was steadily 
driven to the wall as the far more lively game of baseball, slowly 
taking its modern form and shape, made a more universal bid 
for popularity. 

The date of baseball's emergence as a game definitely differ- 
ent from rounders or town-ball has been patriotically determined 
by a national commission which set out in 1907 to establish its 
American origins. But there is no recorded evidence to justify 
its conclusion that modern baseball stems from Abner Double- 
day's supposed adoption of the diamond at Cooperstown, New 
York, in 1839. 17 Although town-ball as it was generally played 
at that time had four bases at the corners of a square and there 
were no foul balls (one hit the ball in any direction and ran), 
the diamond and other attributes of the modern game had 
already been adopted in both rounders and children's base-ball. 
The beginnings of the organized sport may perhaps be more 
accurately traced to a group of New York business and profes- 
sional men who about 1842 began playing it at the Elysian Fields 
in Hoboken. They formally organized the Knickerbocker Club 
and tinder the lead of Alexander J. Cartwright adopted a code 
of rules which was printed in 1845. There were to be nine players 

A Great Gam for tk TlaM Championship 

Return match between the Athletic Base Ball Club of Philadelphia and 

the Atlantics of Brooklyn, Philadelphia, October 22, 1866, won by the 

Athletics, 31 to 12, Lithograph drawn and published by J, L, Magee, 

Courtesy of Hany T. Peters. 

'''"''' 'ato^J^^H?^*. 1 ' .'''I' "''ft I*'"'*-'' V-*' '"-""': 'V "",* 
- " 

T/ie Game o/ Croquet 
Drawing by C. G. Bush. Harper's \Veekly, 1866. 

A Spring Meeting of the New York Archery Club 
Drawing by T. de Thulstrup. Frank Leslies Illustrated Newspaper, 1880. 


on each side, three men out constituted an inning, and the game 
was won by the first team to make twenty-one runs, or "aces" 
as they were then called. 18 The first match game on record was 
played a year later with a picked team which called itself the 
New York Baseball Club, tibe "all-stars*' winning 23 to 4 in four 

In keeping with their social status, the members of the Knick- 
erbocker Club played in neat uniforms of blue trousers, white 
shirts, and straw hats. As important as the game was the formal 
dinner which followed it. For some time, indeed, every effort was 
made to keep baseball an exclusive sport, and not until the 
1850*s were more democratic clubs organized and the Knicker- 
bockers compelled to recognize that workers as well as gentle- 
men could play the game. For there was no need in baseball to 
undergo the expense of maintaining a boat club or keeping up 
a stable of riding-horses. It wanted only an open field, a bat, 
and a ball. ""The great mass, who are in a subordinate capacity," 
a contemporary pointed out succinctly, "can participate in this 
health giving and noble pastime.'* 19 

One of the first clubs that brought a more democratic spirit 
into the baseball world was the Eckford Club of Brooklyn, 
formed in 1855. By this year the Knickerbockers had many 
rivals in and about New York. Games were being placed regu- 
larly among such teams as the Gothams, the Putnams, the Har- 
lems, the Excelsiors, and the Eagles. But the Eckford Club had 
this distinction: its members were shipwrights and mechanics. 
They suffered the disadvantage in comparison with other clubs 
of not having very much time to practise, but they soon proved 
their worth by defeating the Excelsior Club, made up of mer- 
chants and clerks. 20 The Newark Mechanics Club was among 
other organizations composed of workingmen, while one of the 
best teams playing on the Boston Common, where games were 
often scheduled at five in the morning so as not to interfere 
with the players* work, was made up of truckmen. 21 And then 
in 1856 a young man named Hemy Wright, employed in a jew- 


elry manufactory and also a professional bowler with the St 
George Cricket Club, joined the Knickerbockers. Social barriers 
were breaking down completely. The ball clubs wanted to win 
their games. Here also was a hint of the professionalism toward 
which they were headed. Another decade and Wright will have 
gone to Cincinnati to organize the Red Stockings as the country's 
first admittedly professional team. 22 

Baseball slowly spread north, south, east, and west. It drove 
out town-ball in New England and cricket in Philadelphia, made 
its way to the Mississippi Valley (Chicago had four clubs in 
1858), crossed the trans-Mississippi frontier, reached out to the 
Pacific Coast. Everywhere it was bringing men and boys into 
active outdoor play. It was also becoming highly organized. The 
National Association of Base Ball Players was formed in 1858, 
with twenty-five clubs applying for charter membership, and two 
years later delegates from fifty organizations attended its annual 
meeting. New York and New Jersey led in the number of clubs 
(New England had a separate association for teams still playing 
town-ball), but Philadelphia, Washington, Detroit, Chicago, and 
New Orleans were but a few among the cities where baseball 
was now established. 23 

The game was attracting spectators as well as players, and a 
wider public interest was growing out of the reports carried in 
the newspaper of the interclub matches. It still had features 
strange to modern times. A man was out on a ball caught on 
the first bounce; pitching was an underhand throw. Even though 
there were players who "sent the ball with exceeding velocity," 
the scales were more heavily weighted in favor of the batter 
than they are to-day. No gloves were worn. We find The Spirit 
of the Times praising Mr. Wadsworth of the Knickerbockers for 
his fearlessness "in the dangerous position of catcher." Contem- 
porary prints portray the umpire sitting out in the field some- 
where near first base under an umbrella, in frock-coat and 
stove-pipe hat. 24 

But baseball was exciting. In 1858 some two thousand persons 


actually paid fifty cents admission for a match at the Fashion 
Race Course, the first recorded game with gate receipts. 25 Two 
years later the champion Excelsiors, of Brooklyn, went on tour 
and defeated challenging clubs in cities throughout New York, 
Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland. Returning for a match 
with another Brooklyn team, the Atlantics, they played a game 
which drew fifteen thousand spectators. 28 Baseball was on its 

The Civil War interrupted this forward march, but it brought 
an even larger popular following. The game was everywhere 
played behind the lines and in base camps, almost on the battle- 
field. Country boys and factory-workers were introduced to the 
new sport, and with the end of the war they took it back to their 
home communities. One result of wartime playing is seen in the 
attendance of dubs at the first post-war meetings of the Na- 
tional Association. The total jumped to ninety-one in 1865. A 
year later the membership, representing seventeen states and the 
District of Columbia, totaled 202. "Since the war, it has run like 
wildfire,** the Galaxy declared editorially. Charles A. Peverelly 
believed it to be beyond question "the leading feature in the 
outdoor sports of the United States." And by 1872 the magazine 
Sports and Games categorically stated that it had become "the 
national game of the United States." ** 

The American genius for organization was outdoing itself in 
the growth of the National Association, however, and the keen 
rivalry among member clubs was promoting professionalism. The 
practice developed of engaging expert players for a local club 
through offering them better-paid jobs in the community than 
they could normally expect to obtain. On occasion players were 
directly paid for their services in important games. A confusing 
quasi-professionalism invaded the ranks of what had formerly 
been a wholly amateur sport. The next step was inevitable. In 
1869 the Cincinnati Red Stockings were definitely hired as a 
professional team for a country-wide tour. They did not lose 
a game that summer, and the practical advantage of salaried 


players was recognized by all those sports followers primarily 
interested in championship teams. 

These moves toward professional baseball were both cause and 
consequence of the heavy betting that began to be made on 
interclub games. For the gambling fraternity quickly became 
interested in the new sport. It was taken up as professional foot- 
races and prize-fighting had been. Charges also began to be 
made that the gamblers were not only beginning to control the 
ball players, but were operating pools and arranging for games 
to be won or lost on a strictly business basis. 28 Amateur members 
of the National Association bitterly contested the increasing in- 
fluence of these new elements in the game, but their organiza- 
tion was losing its control In 1871 its place was taken by a new 
association frankly composed of professional players. 

For a time this association did not function very effectively. It 
was either unwilling or unable to suppress gambling, and base- 
ball fell under a cloud of popular disapproval. Efforts at reform 
were finally crowned when five years later William A. Hulbert 
undertook the organization of the National League of Profes- 
sional Baseball Clubs. Rules and regulations were now adopted 
which set up strict standards for inter-dub competition. 29 With 
an original membership made up of teams from New York, 
Philadelphia, Hartford, Boston, Chicago, Louisville, Cincinnati, 
and St Louis, baseball had a controlling body. Through its 
ministrations there grew up the immensely complicated system 
of franchises, major and minor leagues, player contracts, and 
other business controls that now characterize the professional 
game. The National League gave baseball a new stability, re- 
stored public confidence in the contests among league teams, 
and put the sport really on its feet 

Amateur playing had naturally suffered from the conflict with 
professionalism and the disrepute into which the game had been 
brought by gambling. But it quickly responded to these new de- 
velopments. Completely divorced from the professional game so 
far as organisation was concerned but following its lead on all 


playing rules, it flourished as it never had before. Baseball be- 
came the favorite game in the colleges. It was played by every 
high school and was encouraged by Y.M.CA/s. Ball clubs be- 
came a feature of every American community. 

The game had many qualities that appealed to the average 
young American. It met his newly felt need for healthful out- 
door exercise. It offered him competitive team play. But per- 
haps Mark Twain had an even more suggestive explanation of 
its popularity. "Baseball is the veiy symbol," he wrote, "the out- 
ward and visible expression of the drive and push and rush and 
struggle of the raging, tearing, booming nineteenth century." 80 

CROQUET had in the meantime performed the miracle of getting 
both men and women out-of-doors for an activity they could enjoy 
together. The first of the post-war games to be introduced from 
England, it reached an even broader public than baseball Cro- 
quet was more than a game; it was a social function. Contempo- 
rary writers were soon pointing out what an unmixed blessing 
it was for the American damsel, and warning bachelors to be- 
ware. 31 

"'Charming' is the universal exclamation of all who play or 
who watch the playing of Croquet...," an early rules book 
stated. "Hitherto, while men and boys have had their healthy 
means of recreation in the open air, the women and girls have 
been restricted to the less exhilarating sports of indoor life. . . . 
Grace in holding and using the mallet, easy and pleasing atti- 
tudes in playing, promptness in taking your turn, and gentle- 
manly and ladylike manners generally throughout the game, are 
points which it is unnecessary for us to enlarge on. . . . Young 
ladies are proverbially fond of cheating at this game; but they 
only do so because they think that men like it** 83 

George Makepeace Towle has an idyllic picture of people 
playing croquet: "The sunshine glimmering through the branches 
the soft velvety grassthe cool, pure country air the quiet 


broken only by the twittering of the birds, and now and then a 
passing footstep." 33 Only occasionally did some controversial 
issue arise to mar the sweet felicity of the croquet court. There 
was the problem of "spooning." This was not a mode of behavior, 
but the practice of hitting the croquet-ball by what is now called 
the pendulum stroke. Obviously women in hooped-skirts were 
at a disadvantage. The Nation gave its considered opinion: 'We 
agree that spooning is perfectly fair in a match of gentlemen, 
but it is decidedly ungenerous when played with ladies, unless 
those ladies are bloomers." 34 

Croquet was by no means confined to the fashionable lawns 
of the effete East, however. It went west with the homesteaders. 
Many accounts tell of its popularity in the small towns of the 
prairie states. So great was the vogue in the 1870's that manu- 
facturers put out playing sets with candle-sockets on the wickets 
for night playing. 

Archery and lawn tennis, the former the revival of an old sport 
and the latter newly introduced from England about 1874, had 
also been taken up widely by this time. They too were sports, 
gentle and genteel, which could be played by both sexes. "The 
contestants were ladies and gentlemen from the cultured circles 
of society, 9 * Harper's WeeJdy reported of an archery tournament in 
the White Stocking Park at Chicago in 1879, "and while the 
rivalry among the shooters was keen to the last degree, an air of 
such refinement and courteous dignity as is not often witnessed 
by observers of public games characterized every one connected 
with the contest/* 85 Writing on tennis in 1881, the magazine 
Outing, whose establishment reflected the rising interest in sports, 
assured its feminine readers that this was far too refined a game 
to offer any attractions for the lower orders of society. A lady who 
took part in a tennis match would find herself "in the company of 
persons in whose society she is accustomed to move." 36 

At this stage of its development, lawn tennis as played in the 
United States did not involve hard, overhand serves, back-court 
drives, or smashes at the net Women players suffered only the 


slightest handicap in having to hold up the trains of their long, 
dragging skirts; they were not expected actually to run for the 
ball. It was patted gently back and forth over a high net 
stretched across any level space of lawn. Competition gradually 
led to changed methods of play, and with the organization of 
the United States National Lawn Tennis Association (there were 
forty member clubs in 1883) and the institution of annual tourna- 
ments at Newport, men began to take the game more seriously. 
The active features of play that now characterize it were devel- 
oped. A group of players whose names are still remembered 
emerged from the ranks R. D, Sears, James Dwight, Robert D. 
Wrenn, William A. Larned, Dwight F. Davis ---- Finally in 1900 
the establishment of the International Davis Cup matches defi- 
nitely marked the transformation of tennis from a pastime to a 
sport 37 

ROLLER-SKATING had been introduced by James L. Plimpton in 
1863, and New York's social leaders, hoping it could be restricted 
to "the educated and refined classes/* quickly made it fashionable. 
Their Roller Skating Association leased the Atlantic House in 
Newport and made over its dining-hall and piazza into a skating- 
rink. It held weekly assemblies where such distinguished guests 
as General Sherman and Chief Justice Bigelow -watched "taste- 
fully dressed young men and girls, sailing, swimming, floating 
through the mazes of the march, as if impelled by magic 
power." 8S 

But Newport soon had to surrender to the democracy. Rinks 
were built in every town and immense ones established in the 
cities, with a general admission of fifty or twenty-five cents, 
which welcomed all comers. In Chicago the Casino accommo- 
dated four thousand persons three thousand spectators and 
one thousand skaters. There were not only dancing and racing. 
Professor A. E. Smith introduced special fancy skating the Rich- 
mond Roll, the Picket Fence, the Philadelphia Twist ("rolling 


his limbs far apart and laying his head sideways on one of 
them"), and the Dude on Wheels. Night after night the band 
played, the new Siemens lights shone down on the hard-maple 
floor, and a vast attendance crowded the Casino's spacious and 
elegant rink. 39 

Going further west, skating was even more popular. The 
Olympian Club Roller Skating Rink in San Francisco advertised 
five thousand pairs of skates and 69,000 square feet of hard- 
maple floor. It was holding races, roller-skating polo, and "tall 
hat and high collar" parties. 40 

Young and old skated men, women, and children. For a time 
no other sport seemed able to match its popularity. A writer in 
Harper's Weekly cited a gravestone inscription: 

Our Jane has climbed the golden stair 
And passed the jasper gates; 
Henceforth she will have wings to wear, 
Instead of roller skates.* 1 

BUT rr REMAINED for bicycling to become the most spectacular 
craze of all. While it had had a brief vogue in the 1860 s (the first 
velocipedes the French "dandy horses" were known as early as 
the opening of the century ), it was the introduction about 1876 of 
the high-wheeled bicycles, supplanting the old wooden bone- 
shakers, that first made it a popular sport. Within half a dozen 
years of the first manufacture of the new wheels, there were 
some twenty thousand confirmed cyclists in the country; in 
1886 the total had swelled to some fifty thousand, and a year 
later it was over a hundred thousand. Clubs were organized 
in almost every town and city throughout the land, and to bring 
together organizations of like interest and promote cycling as a 
sport, they banded together, in 1881, to form the League of 
American Wheelmen.* 2 

There has been heretofore in our American life, crowded to 
excess as it has been with the harassing cares and anxieties of 


business, 9 * a writer in Harper's Monthly Magazine stated in July, 
1881, "so little attention paid to the organized practice of health- 
giving outdoor exercise, to which bicycling is peculiarly adopted, 
that the organization of this League of American Wheelmen can 
not fail to be recognized as an important subject for public con- 
gratulation." 43 

The safety bicycle and the drop frame for women were still 
almost a decade away. This was the first enthusiasm of the 
high-wheeled pioneers, those daring riders who went forth 
perched on a postage-stamp saddle athwart a sixty-inch wheel 
A header from that dizzy eminence meant broken bones, if not 
a broken head. But forth the wheelmen rode high-necked jack- 
ets, close-fitting knee-pants, and little round hats (later, venti- 
lated duck helmets and imported English hose) prepared to defy 
all the hazards of the road. They generally went in company. 
Club runs were the fashion. The cyclists mounted to the bugle 
call of "Boots and Saddles," and sober pedestrians watched in 
awe as they wheeled past in military formation. 

It was also the era of impressive bicycle parades, competitive 
club drills, hill-climbing contests, and race meetings. On July 4, 
1884, news of the bicycle world included a meet on the Boston 
Common drawing thousands of spectators; a parade of seventy 
cyclists at Portsmouth, New Hampshire; the first dub run of 
the Kishwaukee Bicycle Club at Syracuse, Illinois; races for the 
Georgia championship at Columbus; and medal runs at Salt 
Lake City. Thomas Stevens was off on his famous bicycle trip 
around the world, and in New York a bicycle school with thirty 
uniformed instructors was teaching Wall Street bankers to wheel 
to band music. 44 

The r61e of women in this bright dawn of the bicycle age was 
limited but none the less well recognized. The high-wheeled 
machine was too much for them, but they were given the tri- 
cycle. Here was recreation on *a higher plane than the ball-field 
or the walking rink," an outdoor activity which marked "a step 
towards the emancipation of woman from her usually too 


inactive indoor life." 4S In this vigorous propaganda to promote 
female cycling, The Wheelman also called upon the support of 
ministers and physicians. Bicycling was both godly and healthy. 
One word of warning, from A Family Physician: TDo not think 
of sitting down to table until you have changed your under- 
clothing, and, after a delightful wash and rub-down, quietly and 
leisurely dressed again." ** 

Tricycles were not scorned by men. They were sometimes 
as fast as the bicycle (the mile record was 2:33 minutes for the 
tricycle, 2:29 minutes for the bicycle in 1890 ), 47 and a day's run 
in the country could be managed with a good deal more ease. 
Professor Hoffman's Tips to Tricyclists was written for both the 
sexes. It was an all-inclusive guide, with advice on the wearing 
of celluloid collars and on management of breath, on cleaning 
the machine and on the desirability of lady cyclists' carrying 
menthol cones for emergencies/ 8 

There were all types of tricycles the Surprise Tricycle, the 
Quadrant Tricycle, the Coventry Rotary Tricycle. Another ve- 
hicle was the Sociable. It was in effect a small self -wheeled car- 
riage, the cyclists happily sitting beside each other. It was widely 
advertised for honeymoons. Other machines completely defy 
description the Coventry Convertible Four in Hand and the 
Rudge Triplet Quadricycle. 49 

The social consequences of bicycling, to be so much more 
apparent in the next decade, were already becoming evident in 
the 1880s. Although the price of machines ($100 to $125 for an 
ordinary and $180 for a tricycle) still made them an expensive 
luxury, the number of cyclists was increasing year by year. The 
rediscovery of the outdoors had received its greatest encourage- 
ment, and the League of American Wheelmen was performing 
heroic services in demanding improved roads. "Bicycling is a 
fraternity of more permanent organization/* Outing declared in 
1882, *than ever characterized any sport since the world be- 
gan." 50 

The First National Tennis Tournament at ^ew Brighton 
Drawing by H. A. Ogden. Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, 1880. 

Washington Meet of the League of American Wheelmen 
Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, 1884. 

Meets Princeton in Football 

Their fifth match, at St. George's Cricket Club, Hoboken, Thanksgiving 

Day, November 27, 1879, a scoreless tie. Drawing by A. B. Frost. 

Harpers Weekly, 1879. 


THE R6LE of the colleges in the rise of sports was not one of 
leadership. It was not their example that first set people playing 
games, bicycling, or generally getting outdoors for recreation. 
The epidemics sweeping the country did not pass them by, 51 but 
undergraduates neither introduced nor popularized any one of 
the games that have so far been described. The only sport they 
developed was intercollegiate footbalL 

It descended from a game played in England at least as early 
as the days of Edward II. "For as much as there is great noise 
in the city,** reads a decree of 1314, "caused by hustling over 
large balls from which many evils arise which God forbid; we 
forbid such game to be used in the city in the future.** 52 And 
again and again in later years England's sovereigns fruitlessly 
legislated against a sport which the common people insisted on 
playing. The early colonists brought it to this country, and 
throughout the eighteenth and the first half of the nineteenth 
centuries it was popular in the colleges. The game generally 
played in this period was something like association football, 
or soccer, but it was completely unorganized, and any number 
of players was usually allowed on each side. The first recorded 
intercollegiate contests (there is notice of an earlier game be- 
tween two groups of Boston schoolboys), 53 took place in 1869 
between Princeton and Rutgers. They played three games with 
twenty-five men on each team. 54 

A revival of football at Harvard and Yale about 1872 (it had 
been prohibited for some years because of increasing rough- 
ness) 55 was the first real step in its emergence as an organized 
sport The English variant known as Rugby, rather than associa- 
tion football, was played, and at a conference among representa- 
tives of Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Columbia a set of rules 
derived from those of the English Rugby Union was formally 
adopted. If the game was still far removed from the intercol- 
legiate football we know to-day, its development from that date, 
1876, followed a steady and persistent course. 

Among the early changes which transformed Rugby into our 


modern game were the reduction of the number of players from 
fifteen to eleven; their assignment to specific positions in line 
and backfield; new provisions for running with the ball, lacking, 
and passing; and the substitution of the modern "scrimmage" 
for the old "scrummage" that confused huddle of the original 
game in which, instead of being passed back, the ball was indis- 
criminately kicked out after being put in play. When the new 
Intercollegiate Football Association gave its sanction to these 
new rules in 1SS1, there was little left of English Rugby in 
American colleges. 50 

Football aroused spectator interest from the start, and the 
Big Three of the eastern colleges Harvard, Yale and Princeton 
at first completely overshadowed all other teams. It was long 
before comparable elevens were in the field. The Thanksgiving 
Day games of these universities were consequently the great 
events of the fall season. Some four thousand spectators turned 
out for the first Princeton-Yale game in 1878; little more than a 
decade later, attendance was almost forty thousand. 57 

Few adults found themselves able or willing to play football. 
Although teams made up of former college players were for a 
time quite active, the game was primarily for boys. But many 
were glad to watch so exciting a sport. Its dependence upon 
brute force satisfied atavistic instincts as could no other modern 
spectacle except the prize-fight Baseball had become the na- 
tional game because so many people played it as well as watched 
it. Football was destined from the first to be primarily a spec- 
tator sport. 

THIS phenomenal expansion in the field of sports was the most 
significant development in the nation's recreational life that had 
yet taken place. Apart from all the considerations already men- 
tioned, athletics provided an outlet for surplus energy and sup- 
pressed emotions which the American people greatly needed. 
The traditions of pioneer life had influenced them along very 


definite lines, and the restrictions of urban living warred against 
a feeling for the outdoors which was in their blood. With the 
gradual passing of so much of what the frontier had always stood 
for, sports provided a new outlet for an inherently restless 
people. 58 

In subsequent years they were to become far more general. 
Outdoor recreation was to develop into a much more marked 
feature of American Life as new opportunities opened up for 
ever larger numbers of people to play games. The democracy 
was to take over sport to an extent which its limited leisure and 
lack of resources still made impossible in these decades after 
the Civil War. But the path had been cleared. America had 
discovered a new -world. 



growth of commercial amusements, there was a steadily 
broadening interest in recreation in the 1880's and 1890*5. The 
doldrums of half a century earlier had been left far behind. The 
gospel of work still held good, but it was tempered by a new 
realization of the need for play. The decline of puritan influence 
resulted in wider popular sanction for many diversions which 
had once been generally disapproved. And the new sports them- 
selves, as a writer in Outing declared, had made a breach in the 
walls "which that awful personage Mrs. Grundy had raised up to 
separate the sexes in outdoor games." * The era of Victorian re- 
pression was drawing to a close. 

Newspapers and magazines all reflected this. During the sum- 
mer of 1886 the New fork Tribune devoted no less than five 
hundred columns to sports, also issuing its Book of Open-Air 
Sports, and a decade later William Randolph Hearst started a 
custom which the entire press quickly adopted. He began pub- 
lishing daily in the New fork Journal a page headed "In the 
World of Professional and Amateur Sports.** 2 Magazines devoted 
to these new activities were also started. Outing had shown the 
way. It was followed by a wide choice of weeklies and monthlies 
ranging from the American Canoeist to the Bicycling World, from 
the Ball Players' Chronicle to ArcJiery and Tennis News. 

It could still be said that many more people watched sports 
than took part in them. James F. Muirhead, a sympathetic but 
critical English observer of the new movement, reported that 
games were widely played in the East but in the Middle West 



"baseball and other sports, like dancing in China, are almost 
wholly in the hands of paid performers." 3 Nevertheless, hundreds 
of thousands were being recruited annually to fill the ranks of a 
growing army of sportsmen and sportswomen. The outdoor move- 
ment was gathering increasing momentum. There was a vogue 
for walking and mountain-climbing, fishing and hunting, camp- 
ing in the woods. A craze for canoeing is attested by notices of 
railroad excursions into the country with freight-cars equipped 
with special canoe racks and also with accommodations for fold- 
ing boats. Steamship lines advertised outings for amateur photog- 
raphers **Up the river the artists sailed, popping away with their 
cameras." * 

There were summer resorts. It was no longer only Saratoga, 
Newport, Long Branch, and a relatively small number of fashion- 
able watering-places that represented this phase of recreation. 
The number of resorts, especially in what was becoming the 
vacationland of New England mountain and seashore, was legion. 
In May, 1890, the New York Tribune was running some eight 
columns of summer-hotel advertisements, appealing directly to 
the middle class rather than to the more exclusive ranks of so- 
ciety. The popular Summer Tourist and Excursion Guide, listing 
moderate-priced hotels and cheap railroad excursions, repre- 
sented a far departure from The Fashionable Tour" of half a 
century earlier. 

The attractions the resorts offered also mirrored the changing 
scene. One hotel, inordinately proud of its gas-lights and electric 
bells, glowingly advertised extensive grounds for lawn tennis, 
croquet, and archery. Another singled out as its most popular 
feature its facilities for fishing, boating, driving, tennis, and 
croquet 6 Every seashore resort stressed the bathing. There were 
no longer any reservations as to its propriety. The prudent female 
still went into the water fully clothed Godey's Lady's Book 
advertised a costume of Turkey red "consisting of a yoke polo- 
naise and full drawers," to be worn with a sash around the waist, 
long black stockings, and a straw hat 6 But the old prejudices 

Camping Out 

Lithograph by N, Cumer after a painting by Louis Maurer, 1856, Courtesy 
of Hany T, Peters, 


against men and women going into the surf together had com- 
pletely disappeared. 

Visitors from abroad in the 1890's were as much struck by the 
way Americans were now seeking out opportunities for play as 
those who had come to this country in the 1840's had been im- 
pressed by our apparent lack of interest in amusements. The 
United States was still the Land of the Dollar. We were a nation 
absorbed in money-making. But there was a new appreciation of 
the r61e of recreation "as a leaven to the toilsome year of the 
world." 7 Among others, James Bryce, as keen an interpreter of 
the American scene as any European who has ever visited the 
United States, found a remarkable faculty for enjoyment among 
Americans, a power to draw happiness from simple and innocent 
pleasures which was seldom found in overburdened Europe. 
The sadness of Puritanism," he wrote, "seems to have been shed 
off." 8 Two French travelers made reports which contrasted even 
more sharply with those of their mid-century predecessors. Paul 
de Rousiers was specially impressed with what he considered the 
general air of honesty and decency about our recreation; 9 Paul 
Blouet by the freedom and gaiety with which American men and 
women took part in so many activities together. "They have not 
the English tendency,** the latter told his countrymen, "to convert 
their pleasures into funeral services." 10 

THESE GAINS had been made gradually. Americans generally had 
not suddenly thrown off that psychological restraint which one 
writer termed "the doom of work." 11 Many of the generation 
of the 1890's had had much too deeply imprinted on their 
minds the moral lessons taught by the little homilies they 
had read as children in the famous McGuffey readers. In one of 
them, "The Idle Boy Reformed," a little lad who unaccountably 
disliked work asked several animal friends to play with him. The 
invariable answer was, "No, I must not be idle." The story con- 
cludes: "What? is nobody idle? Then little boys must not be 


idle/ So he made haste and went to school and learned his lesson 
very well, and the master said he was a good boy/* 12 

Even when decreasing hours of labor (the twelve-hour day 
had now largely given way to the ten-hour day) and such revo- 
lutionary changes as Saturday half-holidays and two-week sum- 
mer vacations afforded a new measure of justified leisure, there 
was still the old prejudice against any frivolous "mispense" of time. 
It was particularly strong in rural sections and primarily directed 
against commercial entertainment. The pleasures of the city stood 
condemned, as partaking of the Devil, by those who did not have 
the opportunity to enjoy them. It was the cry of the Lollards 
against the pernicious amusements of the fourteenth century; of 
the early middle-class Puritans against the diversions of the 
English aristocracy; of the humble followers of the New England 
way against the fashionable pleasures of the rich merchants; of 
the frontier converts to Methodism against urban dancing, card- 
playing, and theatre-going. 

The metropolis stood for vice and wickedness. Religious jour- 
nals painted its traps and pitfalls in lurid colors, vividly revealed 
its pleasures as sinister invitations to eviL New York was the out- 
standing symbol of **all the abominations which curse humanity,** 
but readers of the more exciting exposures were warned that "the 
giddy voluptuaries who find pleasure in guilty abandon and cor- 
rupt morals are not indigenous to New York, but flourish to a 
lesser degree in all great cities.** In Metropolitan Life Unveiled, 
or Mysteries and Miseries of America's Great Cities, the author 
was careful to point out that he was not prompted by tt pessi- 
mistical reflections,* but unmasked the sins of the cities solely 
that the beauties of refinement and purity might appear nobler 
by contrast 1 * Yet naturally enough the warnings of the godly 
only heightened the discontent of country youths with a life 
which so signally lacked these dangers and excitements. Bright 
lights were made all the more alluring. 

Vitriolic attacks which would have had the admiring approval 
of Cotton Mather were still being launched against the theatre. 


As a leader of the die-hards, the Reverend Josiah W. Leeds was 
profoundly shocked that playhouses should be looked upon with 
more tolerance than during the early days of the Republic, al- 
though they were probably "as low in character and proportion- 
ally as great in number as they were in Paris when that city was 
under the sway of the God-denying, blood-seeking, and depraved 
leaders of the French Revolution.* He would tolerate nothing 
that had to do with the theatre. Tf avowed Christians of 're- 
spectability* would have the vile variety theatres of the poorer 
classes removed from our cities," he warned, "such persons can- 
not consistently give countenance to the playhouses of the so- 
styled *better sort'; and if they would have the low music-halls, 
with their tawdry and lewd accessories abolished, they, on their 
part, should have naught to do with the elegant opera, its al- 
luring ballet and unsavory plot" " 

But while the heirs of the Puritan tradition might still rail 
again all urban entertainments, clinging tenaciously to out- 
moded ideals of conduct, they could not possibly prevent devel- 
opments which were an inevitable consequence of changing 
social and economic conditions. The church as a whole adopted a 
more realistic attitude. It listened to the people, realizing it had 
lost the power to impose arbitrary prohibitions. When it dis- 
approved of certain types of commercial amusements, it sought 
to substitute its own entertainments. "The church must not at- 
tempt to take away the theatre, the dance, the card party," stated 
William D. Hyde, "unless it can give in its place not merely a re- 
ligious or intellectual substitute, like a prayer meeting or a 
literary society, but a genuine social equivalent" 15 "If amusing 
young people aids to save them," the Northwestern Christian 
Advocate, an organ of the Methodist Episcopal Church unequiv- 
ocally stated in one issue, "then the work is fully and gloriously 
worthy of the church." 1S 

Provision was made in the new institutional or socialized 
churches of the 1880's and 1890*s for libraries, gymnasiums, and 
assemblies; for games, concerts, and amusements. One of them 


built a $400,000 People s Palace to meet the community's needs 
for "sanctified amusement and recreation." 17 The Y.M.GA. had 
already become a leader in the promotion of sports (it had some 
261 gymnasiums in cities throughout the country 18 ), and other 
religious organizations vied with the churches themselves in 
providing social activities of all kinds* It was the era of sociables, 
fairs, suppers, and strawberry festivals. In mild and innocent 
form, these affairs could reproduce through raffles, grab-bags, 
charades, games, and refreshments the sophisticated pleasures of 
more worldly society. 1 * 

But again it would be misleading to imply that this revolu- 
tionary change in the attitude of the church was accomplished 
without strong opposition from within the ranks. Religion was 
combating the rivalry of entertainment over its hold upon the 
public, but not all churchmen realized what was happening. "We 
are not informed," Dr. William Bayard Hale caustically wrote 
in The Forum, ". . . that the Church at Ephesus or Philippi ever 
advertised a bazaar, a clam-bake, or a strawbeny social. We have 
no information that St. Paul was accustomed to give stereopticon 
lectures, Barnabas operating the lantern. It is not clearly estab- 
lished that St Athanasius ever arranged a kirmess, a broom-drill, 
or a pink tea." - He cited flagrant examples of churches seeking 
at one and the same time to raise money and entertain their 
members. It was his forthright conclusion that "the world does 
not need the church as a purveyor of vaudeville." 

The crusading Mr. Leeds sprang joyfully into the fray. He 
was as strongly opposed to church socials as to the lowest music- 
hall performances. He had no tolerance whatsoever for the idea 
that the church should in any way recognize the popular craving 
for amusement Tft used to be held that Jesus and His work 
furaished ample resources to meet the loftiest aspirations of a 
saved souL" He condemned with equal vigor dramas, comedies, 
farces, suppers, fairs, and entertainments of any conceivable sort 
A strawbeny festival was a step which led straight to the variety 
show or public dance-hall: 


And fairs and shows in the halls were held, 
And the world and her children were there, 
And laughter and music and feasts prevailed 
In the Place that was meant for prayer. 21 

Observance of the Lord's Day also brought about another clash 
with conservative religion. Its dedication to rest and meditation 
had broken down somewhat in the late eighteenth century, and 
then, as we have seen, been vigorously revived early in the nine- 
teenth. Now the doctrine was again being undermined. The great 
influx of foreign immigrants, bringing with them wholly different 
ideas of how Sunday should be spent, had a great influence in the 
cities. The Germans particularly followed the customs of the 
Continental Sabbath, so completely at variance with those of the 
Puritan Sabbath, and their picnics and beer-garden entertain- 
ments became a Sunday feature wherever they had settled in 
large numbers. Industrious, sober, hard-working, they set an ex- 
ample which was widely followed. The popularity of Sunday 
excursions and the practice of making the day primarily an oc- 
casion for recreation spread rapidly after mid-century among 
working people. 22 

In the running fight against this trend, rural America stub- 
bornly maintained its old-fashioned ways. South Carolina contin- 
ued to make church attendance compulsory as late as 1885, and 
the rock-ribbed state of Vermont attempted to enforce the old- 
time bans on its statute-books that forbade all Sunday diversions. 
Wherever the evangelical religions had a popular following, there 
the Sabbath was rigidly observed. Even in the cities the more 
conservative ministers preached innumerable sermons against 
profaning the Lord's Day, promising dire punishment for who- 
ever dared to depart from the straight and narrow path. Ex- 
cursions to the country, picnics and ball games, Sunday concerts, 
came under as severe a ban as theatre-going, dancing, or card- 
playing. "You cannot serve God and skylark on a bicycle," one 
minister told his abashed congregation, Such militant organiza- 
tions as the American Sabbath Union, the Sunday League of 


America, the Lord's Day Alliance, were startling proof of the 
vitality of the strong forces still arrayed in support of this phase 
of Puritan doctrine, 13 

In one part of their campaign these religious forces had pow- 
erful allies. When they urged legislation to maintain the Sabbath 
that forbade all work on that day, they could count upon the 
support of the Knights of Labor and the American Federation 
of Labor. But on the issue of recreation on the Lord's Day there 
was a definite parting of the ways. Labor was as much in favor of 
complete Sunday freedom in this respect as the religious re- 
formers were opposed to it. Times had greatly changed, but the 
forces of labor could ask their religious friends, as King James 
had asked the leaders of Puritan reform, "For when shall the 
common people have leave to exercise if not upon the Sundayes 
and Holydays, seeing they must apply their labour, and winne 
their living in all working dayesF* 

The fight to maintain the sanctity of the Lord's Day was in- 
evitably foredoomed in the light of changing social conditions. 
"Where is the city in which the Sabbath is not losing ground?" 
one discouraged reformer asked in 1887. "To the mass of the 
workingmen Sunday is no more than a holiday ... it is a day for 
labor meetings, for excursions, for saloons, beer-gardens, baseball 
games and carousels/* 24 

In the West, if not in the East, even the theatres were open- 
ing on the Sabbath. Sunday notices in such a paper as the 
Chicago Tribune advertised special attractions for the day a 
spectacular melodrama at one theatre and a comic-opera com- 
pany at another. AH the variety houses and music-halls were 
open. 25 There was no question that the city had broken the 
shackles imposed upon Sunday amusements by religious dogma. 
And the freedom once won would not be surrendered. Judged by 
modern standards, great numbers of Americans still observed the 
Sabbath religiously, but for many others the day had become by 
the 1890*5 one for play and enjoyment which presented a striking 
contrast to conditions in mid-century. It was the most important 


single development of the late nineteenth century increasing the 
opportunities of the common man for recreation, 

ON A VISIT to this country during these years, the English soci- 
ologist Herbert Spencer recognized the changes that had come 
over the recreational scene. He also drew attention to another 
aspect of the popular attitude toward amusement. "Old Froissart, 
who said of the English of his day 'that they take their pleasures 
sadly after their fashion/** Spencer wrote, "would doubtless, if 
he lived now, say of the Americans that they take their pleasures 
hurriedly after their fashion. In large measure with us, and still 
more with you, there is not that abandonment to the moment 
which is requisite for full enjoyment, and this abandonment is 
prevented by the ever-present sense of multitudinous responsi- 
bilities." 26 

It was natural that Americans should not entirely escape the 
shadow of work in their play, should carry into it something of 
the competitive spirit which characterized their otiber activities. 
In the best of circumstances there was likely to be that residue 
from old traditions. Horace Greeley had noted the tendency to 
make play a business rather than a diversion from business as 
early as 1876. He complained that with teachers for every art, 
science, and "ology," there should be no room for professors of 
play. "Who will teach us incessant workers," he asked plaintively, 
"how to achieve leisure and enjoy it?** * 7 

And in 1880 James A. Garfield, iu an address at Lake Chau- 
tauqua, had made a striking characterization of the age on whose 
threshold America now stood which both emphasized and carried 
one step further the ideas expressed by Horace Greeley. **We 
may divide the whole struggle of the human race into two 
chapters," Garfield declared; "first, the fight to get leisure; and 
then the second fight of civilization what shall we do with our 
leisure when we get it." 28 

In going on to discover what Americans were now doing with 


their increasing leisure, it must be realized that the pattern of 
recreation had become inconceivably complex. Every year new 
strands were being woven into it. At no point is it possible to 
draw a complete picture of America at play. The scene in the 
18SO*s and 1890's can only be traced in broadest outline through 
a general account of the principal diversions of the various 
groups that made up contemporary society. 


the past century? Everything, and nothing. But the great 
mass of city dwellers sought out as they had throughout the century 
the most lively and exciting popular entertainment. In the 1840's 
spokesmen of labor had declared that the intolerable burden of 
working conditions in the city demanded "excitement fully pro- 
portioned to the depression." It was even truer half a century 
later. Imperial Rome had sought to appease the restlessness of its 
laboring masses by providing the free spectacles of the circus and 
gladiatorial combat Imperial America had its amusement pal- 
aces, its prize-fights, its concert-saloons, for which the modern 
workingman had to pay. 

These phases of recreation now bulked larger than ever on the 
national horizon. The tremendous growth of cities made them of 
great importance. In 1850 there had been but eighty-five urban 
communities with a population of more than 8,000; there were 
almost seven times as many by the end of the century. Between 
1880 and 1900 alone the urban population had more than 
doubled, rising from fourteen to thirty million. New York and 
Brooklyn accounted for over two million in 1890; Chicago and 
Philadelphia for over a million each; Boston, Baltimore, and 
Washington for about half a million apiece. There were in all 
twenty-eight cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants. 1 

These great masses of people were made up of aH types and 
all nationalities. In Chicago the foreign-born numbered nearly as 
many in 1890 as the entire population ten years earlier. Germans, 
Swedes, Norwegians, Bohemians, Irish, Italians, Poles, thronged 



its busy streets. New York presented an even more polyglot popu- 
lation. It had as many Italians as Naples, as many Germans as 
Hamburg, twice as many Irish as Dublin, and two and a half 
times as many Jews as Warsaw, It had thickly settled districts 
taken over in their entirety by Hungarians, Greeks, Syrians, 
Chinese. 3 In large part the foreign elements carried on the hum- 
bler tasks of society, but they also began to crowd and push the 
native Americans in this bustling, thriving urban world. Com- 
petition was intense. Yet every year more people were irresistibly 
drawn to metropolis from rural America. In some parts of the 
country there was actual depopulation. New England villages 
were abandoned as their inhabitants fled to the great eastern 
manufacturing centers; even in Missouri, eastern Iowa, south- 
eastern Indiana, and western Illinois the countryside was de- 
pleted in favor of the young and vigorous cities of the Middle 

These swarms of newcomers from the country and from abroad 
went into all trades and occupations. They became day labor- 
ers, street-car conductors, mechanics, factory-hands, teamsters. 
hod-carriers, clerks, grocers, haberdashers, restaurant keepers, 
carpenters, policemen . . . and also domestic servants, garment- 
workers, salesgirls, typists, telephone operators. . . . New occupa- 
tions were opening up every day as the city and the machine 
more and more dominated the changing economy. 

Despite long hours of work and the economic precariousness 
of their lives, or all the more because of such conditions, these 
wage-earners were eager for amusement of any kind. Little at- 
tention was paid to their social welfare. The cities had not yet 
developed their present park systems; there were no municipal 
recreation programs. It was difficult if not impossible to escape 
crowded streets and noisome tenements. The sports and outdoor 
activities being so widely taken up by the country at large were 
not yet within the realm of practical possibility for the majority 
of urban workers. Their entertainment was necessarily passive, 
commercialized, and cheap. 

Sunday "Social Freedom'" in the Bowery 

A religious paper's view, Illustrated Christian \Yeeklij, 18Ti Courtesy of 
the Xew York Historical Society, 

A CJfcagD Pool-Room on 
Drying by I de Tliulstrup. titrp&'s \\'eettij, 1S92. 


Barnum had pioneered in meeting such limitations of taste 
and pocket-book. He had had innumerable imitators. Public 
amusements tawdry though they might often be, sometimes 
vicious had expanded with the growth of cities at a rate never 
before known. The American metropolis far surpassed that of 
Europe in the wealth and variety of entertainment it offered to 
its surging population. 

THE MID-CENTUBY THEATRE had played a leading r61e in satisfying 
urban needs. We have seen the great playhouses of the period 
packed with **all classes of fraternized humanity."* But now the 
separation of different types of theatrical entertainment just start- 
ing in the 1850's had been earned through to its logical con- 
clusion. The circus, the variety show, and burlesque were 
completely divorced from the legitimate stage. There was a new 
popular theatre of farce and melodrama quite distinct from the 
serious drama and polite comedy produced for the world of cul- 
ture and education. 

The old stock companies had also largely given way to a fur- 
ther variant of the star system. Managers staged what they hoped 
would be a successful play, in the main built up about a single 
actor or actress, and kept it on the boards as long as they possibly 
could. Its welcome exhausted in the city, it was then sent to the 
provinces. The "traveling combination* typified the theatre of the 
1890*s, and there was a phenomenal growth in the quantity, if 
not the quality, of companies on the road. They brought to many 
smaller cities whatever had first pleased metropolitan audiences, 
both popular entertainment and the more sophisticated plays. 
Throughout the country "temples of amusement" with the 
people's own prices (ten, twenty, and thirty cents) blatantly 
defied the "temples of art" given over to classic revivals and 
contemporary problem plays. 

The new Bowery in New York, opening on the eve of the Civil 
War, had been one of the first of the truly popular theatres. A 


reporter of the Herald found the house on its first night "jammed 
with the democracy, unwashed and unterrified, to the number 
of a couple of thousand." In a smoke-laden atmosphere redolent 
of beer and sweat, this boisterous audience watched the play 
with an enthusiasm untempered by any polite conventions. A 
sergeant-at-arms with a rattan cane did what he could to keep 
the Boweiy Tbhoys" in order, but woe betide the player who did 
not please that shirt-sleeved gallery. Catcalls and hisses might 
still be emphasized, as they had been in an earlier day, by a bar- 
rage of eggs and rotten fruit,* 

Many of this theatre's old customs survived at the Bowery of 
the 1890's. It was a house which combined melodrama and 
variety for the delectation of as rough-and-ready an audience as 
ever crowded its predecessor. Admission to a box was seventy-five 
cents, but the gallery cost only a dime. House policemen en- 
deavored to maintain order. The officer assigned to the parquet 
was accustomed to stand throughout the performance with his 
back to the orchestra leader, a formidable figure with long black 
mustaches, wearing a derby. Any one who became too noisy 
would feel the sharp rap of his cane and the hissed warning, 
"Cheese it!" The theatre had a convenient bar. Throughout the 
show waiters hurried about, and glasses of foaming beer were 
continually being passed back and forth. 5 

TTie People s, the Windsor, the Third Avenue, the National, 
the London, were other popular New York houses largely given 
over to melodrama at ten to thirty cents. 6 Chicago had a bloc 
of what were called provincial theatres, presenting ''entertain- 
raent of the more democratic type." The Alhambra and the 
Madison Street Opera House had a wide fame. At the Park the 
actresses were glad to join members of the audience for a casual 
drink, and boys sold rotten cabbages even an occasional dead 
cat to the gallery gods. 7 An air of somewhat greater respectabil- 
ity hovered over Boston's Grand Opera House and the People's 
Theatre in Philadelphia (it was advertised as "the largest and 
handsomest popular price theatre in America"), but standards 


of decorum were not unduly high. The playhouses of San Fran- 
cisco and other western cities granted nothing to those of the East 
in their air of democratic informality. 

Hie dime-novel influence dominated this popular theatre. 
Melodrama was all the rage, staged with extravagant elaboration. 
Four acts with twenty-odd scenes were the rule for a good 
sizzling play of death and destruction. Harbor-fronts with lap- 
ping waves of real water were ingeniously constructed, and 
rugged papier-mach6 mountains erected with rock faces and 
fearsome precipices. Horses raced on treadmills, railroad trains 
were wrecked, and violent explosions sent the property houses 
crashing. Through these exciting scenes strode scowling, heavy- 
mustached villains who treacherously bound lovely girls on the 
railroad tracks before approaching locomotives, or locked them 
in gloomy subterranean dungeons while the river slowly rose to 
the only window. But the handsome hero was always in time for 
a dramatic last-minute rescue. Murder, arson, burglary were 
vividly depicted everything but rape and seduction. The theme 
often involved the pitfalls that beset the innocent country girl 
lured to the big city, but she was invariably saved from that fate 
worse than death. 

There were five main characters in this popular drama, and the 
audience came to know exactly what to expect of each of them 
the hero and heroine, the light-comedy boy, the soubrette, and 
the heavy man. Owen Davis, accustomed at this period to turn 
out ten to twenty melodramas a year reaching an audience of 
seven million (he had a good plot, he explained), once tried to 
have the comedy boy fall in love with some one other than the 
soubrette. He had to revise his play: the audience was too be- 
wildered 8 

The melodramas were written by the -ream Under the Gas- 
light (one of the earliest and most popular), Only a Working 
Girl, The Limited Mail, Dangers of a Great City, The Turf Dig- 
ger's Doom, The Power of Gold, Wilful Murder, and Nellie, the 
Beautiful Cloak Model. In On the Bowery Steve Brodie himself 


jumped off a shaky Brooklyn Bridge and plunged through the 
trap amid a shower of rock salt thrown up by stage-hands. The 
"Natal Cadet found James J. Corbett heroically saving the heroine 
from a foul cellar dive: "So you've come for the gal," sneered 
the villain, gliding stealthily forward, an ugly knife clenched be- 
tween his gleaming teeth. Gentleman Jim would calmly take off 
his white gloves, lay them carefully beside his silk hat, and step 
forward. 5 ' How the audience stamped and shouted as evil was 
vanquished by honor in the person of the new champion prize- 

Virtue always won in the last round of melodrama. Poverty was 
honorable and innocence unassailable. Currency was given to the 
most noble sentiments. "An honest shop girl is as far above a 
fashionable idler as heaven is above earth," the honest shop girl 
sententiously declaimed. Sympathetic audiences at The White 
Slate learned for all time that "rags are royal raiment when worn 
for virtue's sake." 

Most popular of all the melodramas were the westerns, re- 
flecting the romantic glamour that clung to the passing frontier. 
Its wild and woolly heroes appeared in person "Texas Jack" 
Omohundro, "Wild Bill" Hickok, and "Buffalo Bill" Cody. They 
reenacted for cheering audiences saloon brawls, stage-coach 
hold-ups, and blood-curdling Indian attacks. Trusty rifles and 
murderous six-shooters barked continuously in The Gambler of 
the West, and at every bark another redskin bit the dust. Between 
the acts Jack Dalton threw bowie-knives at Baby Bess, the Pet of 
the Gulch, and Rattle Snake Oil was sold at a dime a bottle 
in the lobby. 10 

After his success in such plays as The Scouts of the Plains and 
The Red Right Hand; or The First Scalp for Custer their thrill- 
ing scenes sometimes interpolated (shades of Mr. Barnum! ) with 
a temperance lecture Buffalo Bill launched his Wild West, 
Rocky Mountain and Prairie Exhibition. It went from triumph 
to triumph, playing to over a million people in one five-months 
season: Indians, cowboys, Mexicans; wild Texas steers and buf- 


faloes; the Deadwood Coach and Sitting Bull; Annie Oakley and 
Buffalo Bill himself in his broad white sombrero. 11 

Almost as popular as the melodrama, greatly favored by the 
lone male in the big city, were the burlesque shows. They had 
come in shortly after the Civil War, in those wicked days when 
the cancan was all the rage and English burlesque queens first 
offered up their "fatted calves at the shrine of a prodigal New 
York audience." 12 There had been outraged protests against this 
type of show. Critics almost wept at the public s "porcine taste 
for indelicate buffoonery," but the managers of the popular 
theatres knew a good thing, from a strictly commercial point of 
view, when they saw it. If reformers chose to describe a produc- 
tion as a "disgraceful spectacle of padded legs jigging and 
wriggling in the insensate follies and indecencies of the hour," it 
seldom hurt box-office receipts. 13 

The modern version of burlesque soon omitted entirely the 
gaily extravagant satire which had distinguished the early per- 
formances of the Black Crook Company, the British Blondes, the 
Red Stocking Blondes. The advertisements of the lS90's told the 
whole story: "50 Pairs of Rounded Limbs, Ruby Lips, Tanta- 
lizing Torsos 50." Many theatres in the large cities were given 
over entirely to this entertainment; traveling companies took it 
on the road. In 1895 Sam T. Jack, "King of Burlesque," was pro- 
prietor of Lily Clay's Colossal Gaiety Company, the Ada Rich- 
mond Folly Company, the Creole Burlesque Company. . . . The 
rounded limbs and dazzling torsos of these merry maidens were 
clothed in "close-fitting, flesh colored silk tights," but the Madison 
Street Opera House in Chicago happily advertised that this was 
really far more attractive than no costume at alL 14 

Variety also had come into its own in this popular theatre; it 
was taking form and shape as modern vaudeville. The transition 
was an important one. While the acts did not differ greatly from 
those at Niblo's, the American Museum, or the mid-century 
Theatre of Mirth and Variety, they marked a distinct improve- 
ment over the music-hall show that had flourished in the 1860*s 


and 1870V Recognizing that there was a far larger audience for 
this type of entertainment if it were reasonably decent, a new 
generation of producers was determined to rescue variety from 
the ill repute into which it had fallen and elevate it to "a high 
plane of respectability and moral cleanliness." irs 

Tony Pastor had initiated refined vaudeville, entertainment 
for the whole family, in New York, and his famous theatre was 
soon rivaled by the Globe, the Olympic, and the Theatre 
Comique. Other cities gave it a no less enthusiastic welcome. By 
the ISSO's there were six vaudeville houses in Philadelphia, two in 
Baltimore, two in Chicago, three in St. Louis, and three in San 
Francisco. 30 As in the case of melodrama and burlesque, traveling 
companies took it on the road. Among the more popular troupes 
listed by M. N. Leavitt, who controlled six companies himself, 
were Tony Pastor's Combination, Hany Minor's Comedy Four, 
Tillotson's Varieties, The All Star Specialty Company, and Charlie 
Shay's Quincuplexals. Here was a new departure in entertainment 
"natural offspring of the old-time minstrel, circus and variety 
sketch stage." ir 

There were acrobats and trained animals, sentimental ballads 
and comic songs, bicycle-riders and fancy roller-skaters, jugglers 
and magicians, innumerable dancing acts all the tricks and 
stunts that have always been a lowly adjunct of the legitimate 
stage. Often one-act farces or comedies were given Lost in New 
York or The Mud Town Rubes. Sometimes there were prudent 
borrowings from burlesque. 

Among the head-liners in the 1890's were Weber and Fields, 
Montgomery and Stone, Maggie Cline singing "Throw Him 
Down, McCloskey," and Lillian Russell "Kiss Me Mother, Ere I 
Die"; Cannencita in her Spanish dances; Sandow, the Strong 
Man; the Russell Brothers in short skirts ("Maggie, have you put 
fresh water in the goldfish bowl?" "No, they ain't drunk up what 
I give 'em yesterday. *); Pat Rooney dancing his famous jig; 
and the Cohan family with Master George in The Lively Boot- 
black and Peck's Bad Boy. 18 


The entry into this profitable field of entertainment of B. F. 
Keith and F. F. Proctor brought about still further expansion of 
vaudeville. The former introduced the continuous performance 
at his Boston theatre in 1883 (Barnum had offered it for holidays 
half a century earlier at his American Museum), and a decade 
later Proctor adopted it at his New York Pleasure Palace. At the 
Ladies' Club Theatre still another forward step was takenthe 
show began at 11 A.M. and ran for twelve hours. 18 

As vaudeville spread to the provinces, theatres were organized 
in chains, and a nation-wide system for booking individual acts 
was developed. The two-a-day circuit came into being. One 
group of theatres alone was estimated to provide entertainment 
for five million every year. Refined vaudeville, observed one 
commentator at the close of the century, belonged to the era of 
the short stoiy and the department store: "It may be a kind of 
lunch counter art, but then art is so vague and lunch is so real." 20 

There were performances at the popular theatres other than 
melodrama, burlesque, and vaudeville. Farces, musical shows, 
comedies, and serious drama were sometimes produced. The 
better houses warmly welcomed the stars of the legitimate stage; 
there was still a taste for good theatre. Even the People's and 
the Windsor, on New York's notorious Bowery, interrupted their 
usual programs to stage Macbeth, King Lear, and Hamlet? 1 - But 
in comparison with an earlier day, the general public was far 
more interested in shows which pretended to be nothing more 
tb^n entertainment. It unreservedly approved **the cheap and 
coarse sensationalism" decried by the critics. It thoroughly en- 
joyed *the silly buffoonery and vulgar nonsense" which offended 
the purists. When Keith, and Proctor joined forces early in the 
twentieth century to establish their well-known circuit, the num- 
ber of houses under their control alone soon grew to four hun- 
dred. 23 Vaudeville, spiced with melodrama and burlesque, had 
become the principal commercial amusement of America's urban 


DIME MUSEUMS, dance-halls, shooting-galleries, beer-gardens, 
bowling-alleys, billiard-parlors, saloons, and other more ques- 
tionable resorts made up another whole world of entertainment 
whose glaring gas-lights symbolized the lure of the wicked city. 
And in the 1890s it often was wicked. It was an age of notori- 
ously corrupt municipal governments. The line between virtue 
and vice was hard to distinguish; perfectly respectable places 
of entertainment shaded off imperceptibly into notorious dives. 
There were plenty of dance-halls that found "the young mechan- 
ics and dressmakers in their glory," but as many where the floor 
was crowded with prostitutes. Every large city had its red-light 
district given over to saloons and sporting-houses. Drinking, 
gambling, and prostitution had become tremendous social prob- 
lems as the size of the constantly growing cities made control 
more and more difficult, particularly when politics formed its 
profitable alliance with vice. 

The dime museums, which preyed upon the gullibility of their 
patrons rather than upon any less innocent tastes, had taken over 
the curiosities and freaks which had always had a peculiar at- 
traction for the populace. Again Mr. Barnum had pointed the 
way. Here could be seen the fat woman and the sword-swallower, 
the bearded lady and the ossified girl, the tattooed man and the 
iron-jawed lady. There were always a stuffed mermaid, a wild 
man from Borneo, and a snake-charmer. What passer-by could 
resist the feverish ballyhoo of the museum barker when he offered 
them frankly such a show as the world had never seen? TThe 
greatest, the most astounding aggregation of marvels and mon- 
strosities ever gathered together in one edifice! From the ends 
of the earth, the wilds of darkest Africa, the miasmic jungles of 
Brazil, the mystic waters of the Yang-tse-Kiang, the cannibal isles 
of the Antipodes, the frosty slopes of the Himalayas and barren 
steppes of the Caucasus; sparing no expense, every town, every 
village, every hamlet, every nook and cranny of the globe has 
been searched with a fine-tooth comb to provide a feast for the 
eye and mind No waiting, no delays. Step up, ladies and 


gentlemen, and avoid the rush. Tickets now selling in the door- 
way." 28 

Sometimes a special performance would be given in the base- 
ment with such celebrities as Jo-Jo, the Dog-faced Boy, or Peer- 
less Corinne, the Circassian Princess and Sword Swallower. And 
an extra dime was often drawn from the unwary by the promise 
of a chance to see "the unclad female form in all its loveliness" 
generally a dim view of a show-window dummy. 

Music-halls, free-and-easies, concert-saloons, provided an op- 
portunity to drink in the garish atmosphere created by music, 
scantily dressed girl waitresses, and beautiful entertainers. 
Chicago, which liked to call itself the Paris of America, had scores 
of these places, 2 * but New York really held unchallenged leader- 
ship. In 1898 the police of Gotham listed ninety-nine amusement 
resorts, including saloons with music and entertainment, on the 
Bowery alone. They classed only fourteen of them as respect- 
able. 25 It was at one of these places that a singing waiter named 
Izzy Baline, crooning to delighted audiences such songs as "Just 
Break the News to Mother" and "You Made Me What I Am 
Today," started on a career which led to fame and fortune on 
Tin Pan Alley under the name of Irving Berlin. 

At dance-halls and other establishments, local social clubs held 
balls and assemblies as they had since mid-century, generously 
inviting the public at the usual admission charge (lady included) 
of one dollar. The Zig Zag Club social was an event in San Fran- 
cisco; Chicago went in for masquerade balls; and a fixture of the 
New York social calendar was the annual ball at Tammany Hall 
of the Chuck Connors Association. The latter was a democratic 
assemblage. Members of the Racquet Club and the New York 
Athletic Club came down town to mingle with representatives of 
the Knickerbocker Icemen, the East Side Democratic and Pleas- 
ure Association, the Lee Hung Fat Club, and the Lady Truck 

Toward the dose of the century the electric trolley began to 
provide a Sunday or holiday substitute for these amusements. 


Steamboat and even railroad excursions had long been possible, 
but here was a far easier and cheaper means of getting away 
from the city. The trolley ride was an outstanding feature of 
week-end recreation: the amusement parks to which the pleasure- 
seekers were carried became the holiday Mecca of thousands 
upon thousands of workers. 3 * A writer in Harper's Weekly, im- 
pressed by the immense crowds that throughout the summer 
took advantage of these excursions, described the parks as "the 
great breathing-places for the millions of people in the city who 
get little fresh air at home." r7 And another observer declared 
that their pastimes yielded more enjoyment "than all the courtly 
balls and fashionable dissipation indulged in by fortune's fa- 
vorites. 5 * SB 

The new rapid-transit companies not only offered reduced 
rates for daytime trips into the country, but advertised special 
trolley carnivals in the evening the cars gaily illuminated with 
multicolored lights and boasting even a number of musicians 
to provide popular band music. They established their own 
amusement resorts in the outskirts of cities from Claremont, New 
Hampshire, to San Antonio, Texas. Some of these parks had little 
more than a pavilion or dance-hall; others had all possible attrac- 
tionsroller coasters, merry-go-rounds, circle swings, bump-the- 
bumps* and shoot-the-chutes. In 1S93 the Ferris Wheel crowned 
the attractions of the Midway at Chicago's World Fair, and soon 
thereafter it was the star feature of hundreds of trolley parks 
throughout the country, 

Chicago had its Cheltenham Beach, popular for barbecues 
and clam-bakes, and later its famous White City. There were 
Paragon Park near Boston, the Chutes at San Francisco, and 
Forest Park Highlands at St. Louis. Crowds listened to band con- 
certs, watched balloon ascensions and parachute jumps, cheered 
at professional bicycle races. At Manhattan Beach near Denver 
there was an ostrich farm and two open-air theatres. Willow 
Grove at Philadelphia had an auditorium seating ten thousand 

Winter Amateur Athletic Meet at the Boston Athletic Club 
Drawing by Hemy Sandham. Harper's Weeldy, 1890. 

77ir Bathing Hour on the Beach at Atlantic City 
Drawing by Frank H. Schell. Harper* Weekly, 1890. 

A Double Play to Open the League Season 

Boston at NVw Vurk. Drawing by \V. P. Snyder. Harpers Weekly, 1836. 


Coney Island also had by this time those varied entertainments 
which continue to draw throngs of New Yorkers every summer 
day. Bathing-houses lined the beach, minstrel bands pkyed on 
the boardwalk, and everywhere the shrill cry of barkers adver- 
tised carrousels, freak shows, shooting-galleries, and dance-halls. 
In 1897 George G Tilyou opened his famed Steeplechase Park 
with a fantastic array of his own inventions the Bounding Bil- 
lows, Blow Hole, Barrel of Love, Human Roulette Wheel, Elec- 
tric Seat, and Razzle Dazzle. 30 There was *a spurious toboggan 
slide of mammoth proportions," one observer noted, and on the 
boardwalk was being sold something new and strange which 
proved a more practical mobile form of nourishment than the 
clam chowder which had formerly ruled supreme. This new con- 
coction was "a weird-looking sausage muffled up in two halves 
of a 

ONE of the most poplar acts on the vaudeville stage in these 
days was De Wolf Hopper's rendering of a famous poem: 

Oh! somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright; 
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light. 
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout; 
But there is no joy in Mudvffle mighty Casey has struck out 31 

It was sign and symbol of the immense interest and enthusiasm 
baseball everywhere aroused. The fans crowded the grand stands 
and packed the bleachers almost every summer afternoon to 
watch the professional teams. "The fascination of the game," 
Harpers Weekly commented, Tias seized upon the American 
people, irrespective of age, sex or other condition.* 82 It was 
estimated that daily attendance at the games of clubs organized 
under the National Agreement was some sixty thousand, with the 
annual total amounting to almost eight million.* 8 When the 
matches of small-town clubs and semiprofessional leagues were 
included, it was many times this figure. Baseball had come a long 
way from those early beginnings traced in mid-century. It was 


far and away the leading spectator sport, a boon to bank clerk 
and factors-worker, shopkeeper and mechanic, the business exec- 
utive and his office-boy. 

Together with the growth in popular interest, there had been a 
number of changes in the game itself since the National League 
was organized in 1876. The umpire had been empowered to call 
four balls and three strikes; a ball had to be caught on the fly 
for the batsman to be out in his hands and not in his cap, as 
the practice had been; restrictions on pitching had been removed 
to make possible new refinements in curves and fade-aways; 
gloves were being worn; and the risks of the catchers position 
had been reduced by arming him with mask, breastpad, and mitt. 
There had been difficulty over the best type of ball. It was at 
first too fast Among the immense scores rolled up in this period 
was one of 201 to 11 at a game in Buffalo. Then the substitute 
ball had proved too dead. A twenty-four inning game between 
Harvard and Manchester ended in a scoreless tie. Finally a better 
balanced ball made more reasonable scores the rule. The game 
became generally faster, and with much improved playing, it was 
more exciting than ever. 8 * 

The National League had a friendly rival in the American 
Association, with which it held an annual championship series, 
but in 1889-90 a serious threat developed to its dominance over 
the professional game. The players themselves, in protest over 
what they considered unfair practices, attempted to win control 
through organization of the National Brotherhood of Baseball 
Players. Big-league ball was thrown into chaos; attendance 
dwindled away alarmingly. But the revolt was short-lived. The 
Brotherhood collapsed after a single season, dragging the Amer- 
ican Association down in its fall, and the National League 
emerged from the conflict stronger than ever. It was left alone 
in the field with twelve member dubs, six in the East and six 
in the West, and it did not again have a major rival (although 
there were many minor associations) until the formation of the 
American League in 1899. 8B After a brief struggle for supremacy, 


these two associations amicably divided the field represented by 
the larger cities, and their establishment of an official World 
Series in 1903 added still more to popular interest. 

Professional baseball had become at once big business, enter- 
tainment for the masses, and the guide and mentor of the 
thousands of amateur players throughout the country. Every city 
followed closely the fortunes of its own team, with the newspa- 
pers giving tremendous publicity to all league games. The genius 
of the sporting page had already arrived half a century ago, and 
he was enriching the American language with the expressive, 
pungent vocabulary of sport. On May 4, 1891, Chicago won a 
notable victory over Pittsburgh under the inspired leadership 
of *Pop" Anson. On the following morning Leonard Dana Wash- 
burn started his account of the affray in the Chicago Inter-Ocean 
in a new style of reporting: 

You can write home that Grandpa won yesterday. 

And say in the postscript that Willie Hutchinson did it. The sweet 
child stood out in the middle of the big diamond of pompadour 
grass and slammed balls down the path that looked like the biscuits 
of a bride. The day was dark, and when Mr. Hutchinson shook out 
the coils of his right arm, rubbed his left toe meditatively in the soil 
he loves so well, and let go, there was a blinding streak through the 
air like the tail of a skyrocket against a black sky. There would follow 
the ball a hopeless shriek, the shrill, whistling noise of a bat grippling 
with the wind, and a dull, stifled squash like a portly gentleman 
sitting down on a ripe tomato 

There were ten of the visiting delegation who walked jauntily to the 
plate and argued with the cold, moist air. Mr. Field lacerated the 
ethereal microbes three times out of four opportunities to get solid 
with the ball, and Brer Lewis Robinson Browning walked away from 
the plate with a pained expression twice in succession. The Gastown 
folks found the ball six times. Two of their runs were earned. 

Mr. Staley, who pitches for the strangers, did not have enough 
speed to pass a street car going in an opposite direction. His balls 
wandered down toward the plate like a boy on his way to school. If 
our zealous and public-spirited townsmen did not baste them all over 
that voting precinct it was because they grew weary and faint waiting 
for them to arrive. . . , se 


The entire country 7 was proud of the Chicago White Sox and 
the All-American team that A. G. Spalding took on a world tour 
in 18SS-S9, playing in Ceylon, in the shadow of the pyramids, 
and before the Prince of Wales in England. 37 Baseball had its 
national heroes, worshiped by small boys from Maine to Cali- 
fornia* There was not an American who did not recognize the 
fame of "Pop" Anson, "Iron Man" Joe McGinnity, and Honus 
Wagner, or know the significance of "Slide, Kelly, Slide. 7 * It 
was the national game beyond possible dispute. 

"Let me say," declared Cardinal Gibbons in a speech made 
in 1S96, "that I favor Base Ball as an amusement for the greatest 
pleasure-loving people in the world. ... It is a healthy sport, and 
since the people of the country generally demand some sporting 
event for their amusement, I should single this out as the one 
best to be patronized and heartily approve of it as a popular 
pastime," sa 

WERE other spectator sports, though none really compared 
with baseball in popular appeal, during this period at the close 
of the past century. Racing and trotting matches were flourish- 
ing, drawing large crowds to the rapidly multiplying city tracks. 
Chicago had three, and four clustered about New York. It was 
the day of Salvator's reign as the horse of the century. His sen- 
sational victoiy over Tenny at Sheepshead Bay was cheered by 
an excited mob of many thousands. 89 Professional rowing matches 
from single sculls to six-oared lap-streak gigs created more 
excitement than they ever have since. In the days of the memo- 
rable duel between Edward Hanlan, Canada's Boy in Blue, and 
Charles E. Courtney, later coach at Cornell, they were a major 
sport 40 Intercollegiate football, of course, had its followers, but 
we shall trace its further development in a later chapter it was 
still more a sport of society than of the masses. 

If there was a rival to the national game in sustained popular 
interest, it was prize-fighting, not wholly out from tinder the 


cloud of disapproval but nevertheless arousing a nation-wide ex- 
citement which official bans on championship bouts in no way 
diminished. The fortunes of favorite bruisers were followed 
avidly, and although it was still true that comparatively few 
people actually saw the fights, the reports of them were read by 
millions. An English visitor was somewhat shocked that his 
newspaper one morning in 1892 gave twelve prominent columns 
to a championship bout while the death of John Greenleaf Whit- 
tier rated only a single inside column. 41 But it was a correct 
appraisal of public interest 

The great event of the prize-fight world was the emergence of 
a champion of champions who dominated the ring from 1882 to 
1892. America has perhaps never had a sports hero comparable 
to John L. Sullivan, the Strong Boy of Boston. He climbed to 
eminence over the prone body of Paddy Ryan, but it was when 
he knocked out Jake Kilrain in a fierce, grueling, seventy-five- 
round battle at New Orleans, the last of the bare-knuckle cham- 
pionship fights, that the great John L. was acknowledged lord 
of all he surveyed. His fame resounded throughout the world 
after this epic encounter, from which he won a purse of $20,000 
and a diamond-studded championship belt presented by The 
Police Gazette* 2 

Boston's hero the city once turned out en masse to honor 
him at a ceremony which found the Boston Theatre packed: the 
aldermen and mayor in the boxes, Beacon Street in the orchestra, 
and the gallery overflowing with the Irish * 8 owed his tremen- 
dous popularity to an aggressive pugnacity which made him 
always eager for a fight. He toured the country, first offering $50, 
and then raising the ante to $1,000, to any one who would stay 
with him four rounds. Mobs fought their way to see him when- 
ever he appeared. On one occasion New York's new Madison 
Square Garden was crowded to the doors with a motley throng 
which embraced every element in the city's diverse population 
from Fifth Avenue to the Bowery. His only losing fight was with 
that insistent enemy John Barleycorn. Once when the great 


John L, was scheduled to fight Charlie Mitchell, the English 
boxer, liquor won the preliminary round. When the gong rang, 
the Strong Boy staggered into the ring, not in his usual green 
trunks encircled by an American flag, but in full evening dress 
with a shirt-front flashing with diamonds. He was ready to fight 
he was always ready, drunk or sober but to the bitter disap- 
pointment of an excited audience the referee called off the bout 44 
When Sullivan finally went down to defeat at the Olympic 
Club in New Orleans before Gentleman Jim Corbett, fighting 
under the Marquis of Queensberry rules, with five-ounce gloves, 
the world appeared to totter. An incredulous public refused to 
believe the dire news which appeared in bold-face headlines 
from coast to coast The Strong Boy of Boston knocked out? 
It was not believed possible. A sorrowing poet sang of his down- 
fall. To the tune of *Throw Him Down, McCloskey" the entire 
country joined in the chorus: 

John L. has been knocked out! the people all did cry 

Corbett is the champion! how the news did fly. 

And future generations, with wonder and delight, 

Will read in history's pages of the Sullivan-Corbett fight. 45 

Corbett reigned for five years, another popular champion, and 
then on St Patrick's Day, 1897, was knocked out by the flying 
fists of Robert Prometheus Fitzsimmons, inventor of the solar- 
plexus punch. The bout was held in Carson City, went to four- 
teen rounds, and was fought for a $15,000 purse. 

THE SOCIAL cmuzATtON- of a people," Lord Lytton has written, 
"is always and infallibly indicated by the intellectual character 
of its amusements." 4fl On the basis of those most widely enjoyed 
by the urban democracy of the nineteenth centuiy, American 
civilization would not appear to have attained a very high leveL 
Living and working conditions in the large city were primarily 
responsible for this. "When there is a lade of nourishing food 


and of the tonic of pure air," a thoughtful contemporary ob- 
served, "debilitated nerves crave excitement; hence the large 
number of saloons, gambling hells, dance halls, and theatres in 
the most crowded portions of the city." 47 

It is easy to overemphasize these more lurid aspects of urban 
recreation. Any account of public amusements forces far into 
the background the simpler pleasures of home and family life. 
Nevertheless it does remain true that the concentration of such 
large numbers of people in very small areas, working with the 
intensity enforced by the new industrialism, made them de- 
mand in their leisure hours stimulation that could relieve the 
strain of their long day in factory, store, or office. The simplicity 
and spontaneity of community life in the country or small town 
could not be preserved in the city. Mass entertainment was an 
inevitable development Excursions into the country, the oppor- 
tunity to enjoy sports for themselves, other active types of amuse- 
ment were developing, but at a discouragingly slow rate. The 
democracy had asserted in ever-stronger terms its right to play. 
America had become a pleasure-loving nation, but the charac- 
ter of its amusements, in so far as the urban population was con- 
cerned, could not but cause serious misgivings. 

The new century was- to witness many changes. Living and 
working conditions were to be improved, stricter and more 
honest supervision was adopted for places of amusement that 
were definitely undesirable, and the growth of city park systems 
soon held out the promise of greater opportunities for outdoor 
activities. Recreation became a primaiy concern of the twentieth- 
century social movement to reform the evils of urban life, and 
there was already impending a revolution in the field of com- 
mercial amusements which was to have incalculable effects* Al- 
though it could hardly be recognized at the time, the 1890s rep- 
resented the culminating stage in the development of many of 
those popular forms of entertainment which were the past cen- 
tury's answer to the needs of metropolis. 



A any country and at any time, an exceptional opportunity 
for the display of wealth and the assertion of social importance. 
Thorstein Veblen has graphically demonstrated this conscious 
or unconscious motivation in many forms of recreation. It is 
clearly evident throughout American social history. The worthy 
citizens of eighteenth-century Philadelphia vied with each other 
in the magnificence of their banquets, loading their tables with 
massive silver plate and serving such a choice selection of im- 
ported wines that the visiting John Adams stood amazed at the 
"sinful feasts.** The planters of Virginia rode to hounds in close 
imitation of the English country squires whose social status they 
sought to emulate in every possible way. Merchants of New York 
and Boston were already aspiring to yachts in the 185ffs, their 
sons to membership in the exclusive boating clubs, while all the 
fashionable world sought out Saratoga or Newport as a step 
upward on the social ladder. 

It was in the latter half of the past century, however, the 
Gilded Age of American civilization, that society most flagrantly 
bent its pleasures to display. The newly rich born of industry's 
great advance since the Civil War owners of railways, copper- 
mines, textile-mills, steel-plants, packing-houses, and cattle 
ranches sought to establish social leadership through their ex- 
travagance in entertainments and amusements. A little band of 
idle rich held the final redoubt in the fashionable world of the 
1880 s and 1890's, and the families of the new plutocracy felt it 
essential to prove beyond shadow of doubt that they too were 



idle and rich. It was not in the American tradition, which 
esteemed riches and abhorred idleness, but urban society was 
running after strange gods. And, in any event, the new plutocrats 
generally supplied the riches and left it to willing wives and a 
younger generation to demonstrate the idleness. 

With the first post-war boom in the 1S60X observers began to 
note that New York society was becoming entirely based upon 
wealth, social prestige being won by those who had the most 
splendid carriages, drawing-rooms, and opera boxes. George 
Makepeace Towle has described the balls and assembliesladies 
in sparkling tiaras, suppers of oysters and champagne, fountains 
gushing wine or sprays of perfume. He was somewhat horrified 
by "so unceasing a round of glittering gaiety and dissipation." * 
The advance of the new millionaires was picturesquely described 
as "the Gold Rush* by representatives of older social traditions. 
TFrom an unofficial oligarchy of aristocrats," Mrs. John King Van 
Rensselaer sadly wrote, "society was transformed into an extrava- 
gant body that set increasing store by fashion and display." 2 

Nor was New York alone in this competitive rage for showy 
display. A sycophant press might boast that its ornate fancy-dress 
balls and ten-thousand-dollar dinner parties were the most ex- 
pensive ever known, but the world of fashion throughout the 
land was closely following its lead. There was an epidemic of 
gaudy magnificence in the amusements of what went for society. 
One Chicago magnate brought an entire theatrical company from 
New York to entertain a group of his friends, and a wealthy 
woman in another city engaged a large orchestra to serenade 
her new-born child. 3 San Francisco was notorious for its "terribly 
fast so-called society set, engrossed by the emptiest and most 
trivial pleasures." * A fortunate miner who had struck it rich in 
Virginia City drove a coach and four with silver harness; another 
had champagne running from the taps at his wedding party. 5 

The famous ball with which Mrs. William K, Vanderbilt 
crashed the gates of society in 1883 was admitted by the press 
to have been more magnificent than the entertainments of Alex- 


ander, Cleopatra, or Louis XIV. 6 It was soon outshown by other 
affairs of New York's Four Hundred. In his Society as I Have 
Found It, Ward McAllister describes dinner parties with squad- 
rons of butlers and footmen in light plush livery, silk stockings, 
and powdered hair; orchestras concealed behind flowered 
screens; and every out-of-season fruit and vegetable served on 
golden plates. At society's fancy-dress balls, men weighed down 
in suits of medieval armor tripped over their swords as they 
attempted to dance quadrilles; the women wore wreaths of elec- 
tric lights in their hair to add a new luster to their diamonds. 7 

"Everything that skill and art could suggest,** McAllister notes 
at one point, "was added to make the dinners not a vulgar dis- 
play, but a great gastronomic effort, evidencing the possession 
by the host of both money and taste." 8 But always taste was 
secondary, and Croesus was crowned society's Lord of Misrule. 
A marveling correspondent of the London Spectator found Amer- 
ica's newly rich pouring out money on festal occasions as from 
a purse of Fortunatus, making feasts as of the Great King Bel- 
shazzar, 9 

For one ball the host built a special addition to his house 
providing a magnificent Louis XTV ball-room which would ac- 
commodate twelve hundred. Another time a restaurant was en- 
tirely made over with a plum-shaded conservatory, a Japanese 
room, and a medieval hall hung with Gobelin tapestries especially 
imported from Paris. At a reception given at the Metropolitan 
Opera. House, twelve hundred guests danced the Sir Roger de 
Coverley on a floor built over stage and auditorium, and were 
then served supper at small tables by three hundred liveried serv- 
ants. It was a world of jewels and satins, of terrapin and canvas- 
backs, of Chdteau Lafite and imported champagne "luxurious in 
adornment . . . epicurean in its feasting." 10 

In the cities of the West, where the golden stream flowed so 
freely in these thriving days and those who would scale society's 
heights often had so much to forget, even greater extravagances 
were sometimes recorded. It took many diamonds and much 

Trotting Cracks of Philadelphia Returning from the Races 

Having a brush past Turner's Hotel, Rope Ferry Road. Lithograph by 
H. Pharazvn, 1STO. Coiirtesv of the New York Historic-ill Society. 

Turnouts in 
Central Park 

Lithograph by Cur- 
rier and Ives after 
sketches from life 
by Thomas Worth, 
1870. J. Clarence 
Davies Collection, 
Museum of the 
City of New York. 

Baltimore Society Dances for Charity 

Grand ball at the Academy of Music for the benefit of the Nursery and 
Child's Hospital. Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, 1880. 


wine for some of the new dowagers to erase entirely the mark 
of the laundry tub or kitchen sink. Only money could do it, and 
the sensational inspired most newspaper copy. The new plutoc- 
racy gave dinners at which cigarettes were wrapped in hundred- 
dollar bills or the guests found fine black pearls in their oysters. 
For one gala occasion the room was filled with cages of rare 
song-birds and dwarf fruit-trees, while half a dozen graceful 
swans swam in a miniature lake. There was a famous horseback 
dinner. The guests were attired in riding habits, 3 * wrote Fred- 
erick Townsend Martin; "the handsomely groomed horses 
pranced and clattered about the magnificent dining-room, each 
bearing, besides its rider, a miniature table. The hoofs of the 
animals were covered with soft rubber pads to save the waxed 
floor from destruction.'' zl 

The Bradley Martin ball in 1897 created the greatest sensa- 
tion of the Gilded Age. The ball-room of the Waldorf-Astoria 
Hotel was converted into a replica of Versailles and sumptuously 
decorated with rare tapestries and beautiful flowers, Mrs. Bradley 
Martin, as Mary Queen of Scots, wore a necklace of Marie An- 
toinette's and a cluster of diamond grapes once owned by Louis 
XTV. The suit of gold-inlaid armor worn by Mr. Belmont was 
valued at ten thousand dollars. The publicity given this affair 
was incredible. The New fork Times and the Herald virtually 
gave over their front pages to descriptions of it, and the London 
papers all carried cabled dispatches. On the morning after the 
affair, the London Daily Matt, with allowance for the difference 
in time, reported: TMrs. Bradley Martin, we have every reason 
to believe, is dressed at this very moment in a train of black 
velvet lined with cerise satin, and a petticoat, if it is not indis- 
creet to say so, of white satin, embroidered with flowers and 
arabesques of silver." The London Chronicle congratulated New 
York society on its triumph It has cut out Belshazzar's feast 
and Wardour Street and Mme. Tussaud's and the Bank of Eng- 
land. There is no doubt about that'* 

But there were limits to which even the American public 


would go in condoning such heartless extravagance in a year 
when there was widespread distress among the poor. The storm 
of disapproval that followed in the train of this ball drove the 
Bradley Martins out of the country. Depressed by their unex- 
pected notoriety, they settled permanently in England. 12 

FOR ALL the lavish prodigality of these affairs, and despite the 
widespread publicity they obtained, they were not important. 
They directly touched the lives of only a very small coterie in 
the upper brackets of the fashionable world* Society in a broader 
sense, members of the community in which wealth was allied 
with culture, had many other forms of recreation where their 
patronage had some real significance. One of these was the legiti- 
mate stage, as contrasted with the more popular theatrical en- 
tertainment of the urban democracy. 

The small, luxuriously appointed theatres where reserved seats 
ranged in price from one to three dollars had become the home 
of a relatively exclusive amusement Every city had its fashion- 
able playhouses. Writing of New York, Henry Collins Brown 
speaks of the friendly social atmosphere of Wallaces, Daly's 
Fifth Avenue Theatre, the Madison Square ("most exquisite 
theatre in all the world"), and the Union Square. In Chicago 
there were McVicker's and Hooley's; Boston offered the Museum 
and the old Boston Theatre. These houses appealed to the car- 
riage trade. Here, in a new elegance of surroundings the pit 
had become the parquet with sloping floor; upholstered plush 
seats were furnished throughout; steam heat (the Lyceum also 
had "medicated air, charged with ozone") had replaced the 
foyer stove; and the new electric lights were being installed 
the world of fashion could enjoy the play in a quiet and com- 
fortable atmosphere far removed from the democratic hurly- 
burly of mid-century. 13 

The productions at these theatres generally centered about 
some starred actor or actress, although a few able stock com- 


panics still survived, and they often achieved long-sustained 
runs comparable to those of to-day's popular plays. With the 
great expansion of popular entertainment for the masses, it had 
become not only possible but also necessary for managers of the 
better theatres to pay more attention to the cultural standards 
of their comparatively limited and sophisticated audience. There 
were revivals of Shakespeare and other classic writers; well- 
staged productions of serious contemporary drama, both Ameri- 
can and foreign; and comedies and light operas which bore little 
resemblance to the blood-and-thunder melodrama and question- 
able burlesque that ruled at the people's theatres. 

Contemporary critics often failed to realize that the divorcing 
of popular entertainment from the legitimate stage rivaled de- 
velopment of the star system as the outstanding feature of theat- 
rical history in the second half of the century. Forgetting the 
slapstick and circus stunts with which it had been so heavily clut- 
tered, they looked back nostalgically to the theatre of an earlier 
day and remembered only Shakespeare. They could not under- 
stand how a public which had once seemed to enjoy the drama 
so much had shifted its allegiance to vaudeville and burlesque. 
Deciding it had degenerated into "vulgarians,*' they damned the 
producers for their "practical, shopkeeping cultivation of this 
popular appetite." They often seemed totally unaware that vaude- 
ville's assumption of the task of entertaining the million, 
which the theatre itself had once borne, was actually affording 
the legitimate stage far greater opportunity for the development 
of the drama than it had ever had before in the democratic 
society of America. 14 

In time they looked back upon this period, as dramatic critics 
are so wont to do, with entirely different eyes. In retrospect the 
actors and actresses who supported the legitimate stage, even the 
plays produced at the more fashionable playhouses, took on 
Olympian stature. The years between 1870 and 1890 were said 
in many critical memoirs to stand out as the theatre's golden 
age. 15 The last decade of the century fell under something of a 


cloud. The rise of a theatrical trust, dominated by a group of 
managers who appeared to be deserting the ways of Wallack 
and Daly, threatened to impose a monopolistic control which 
considered only the box-office. 10 But even in those days there 
could be no real question that dramatic standards were far 
higher than in mid-century. 

If one chose one's theatre, it was not necessary to see an 
equestrian exhibition or sensational melodrama, as had so often 
been the case in the first half of the century. There was no need, 
as there once had been, to sit through cheap variety acts to enjoy 
Romeo and Juliet, or listen to a series of comic songs as entr'actes 
in a performance of Hamlet. And in response to a more intelli- 
gent audience, contemporary playwrights were beginning to 
write with a little more perception and sense of reality than had 
inspired Putnam, the Iron Son of 76, The Lady of Lyons, or 
The Drunkard. 

Bronson Howard had written Young Mrs. Winthrop and Shen- 
andoah, William Gillette his Held by the Enemy and Secret 
Service. There were The County Fair by Charles Barnard and 
Neil Burgess, and Steele Mackaye's phenomenally successful 
Hazel Kirk. A serious attempt to introduce realism to the stage 
was made by James A. Herne with Shore Acres and Margaret 
Fleming. Still more important, perhaps, were the plays of Euro- 
pean dramatists. Ibsen, Pinero, Oscar Wilde, and Shaw all had 
a wide and friendly reception on the American stage. 

In this golden age of the theatre, Mrs. Fiske was adding to her 
laurels in Becky Sharp and A DolFs House; Clara Morris played 
in Camttle and Fanny Davenport in Tosca; Richard Mansfield 
introduced Cyrano de Bergerac; E. H. Sothern was starring in 
The Prisoner of Zenda, James O'Neill, the father of Eugene 
O'Neill, in The Count of Monte Cristo (in which he acted almost 
five thousand times), and William Gillette in Sherlock Holmes. 
Until he left the stage, Edwin Booth was the greatest of Shake- 
spearean stars; his tour of the country with Lawrence Barrett in 
1890 was a continuous triumph. There was none really to take 


his place. But Mansfield, Barrett, McCullough, and Mantel! car- 
ried on the Shakespearean tradition among the actors, while 
Julia Marlowe was a lovely Rosalind in As You Like It, and 
Mary Anderson made an incomparable Juliet Many other names 
producers, dramatists, and actors might be mentioned: Charles 
Frohman and David Belasco; Augustus Thomas and Clyde Fitch; 
the Barrymores, John Drew, Otis Skinner, Mrs. Leslie Carter, 
Margaret Anglin. . . . There were also such foreign stars as Henry 
Irving and Tommaso Salvini, Helena Modjesfca, Sarah Bern- 
hardt, and Eleanora Duse. 

Among the light operas, Pinafore, first of the delightful con- 
coctions of Gilbert and Sullivan to cross the Atlantic, was a sen- 
sation. It was first played at the Boston Museum, on November 
25, 1878, then in San Francisco and Philadelphia, and finally in 
New York. There it was produced simultaneously in half a dozen 
theatres. There were children's companies, church-choir com- 
panies, and colored opera companies playing Pinafore. The fish 
exhibition had to be removed from the Aquarium for an engage- 
ment in what had been Castle Garden. 17 All New York, all Amer- 
ica, sang and whistled TLittle Buttercup." 

Still another triumph was won by English operetta in the 
1880's when Erminie had a phenomenal run of 1,256 perform- 
ances at the New York Casino. Soon thereafter the Boston Ideals 
presented in Chicago the most popular of all American light 
operas, Reginald De Koven's Robin Hood. It was followed by 
other De Koven scores, and at the close of the century John 
Philip Sousa and Victor Herbert were further embellishing this 
type of polite musical entertainment with El Caption and The 
Wizard of the Nile. 

Concert singing, visits by foreign musicians, and orchestral 
playing also revealed a growing taste among the sophisticated 
for more serious music. Jenny Land had paved the way for the 
tours of European artists in the middle of the century, and Ole 
Bull had made two memorable visits. In the 1890*s Ysaye, Pader- 
efwski, Fritz Kreisler, Adelina Patti, Mdba, Calve, and Madame 


Schumann-Heink were all on tour. Symphonic music had had its 
start with the organization of the New York Philharmonic as 
early as 1842, but it was not until 1878 that this orchestra had 
any real rival. In that year the New York Symphony Orchestra 
was established, to be followed in another three years by the 
Boston Symphony, and in 1891 by the Chicago Orchestra. Walter 
Damrosch and Theodore Thomas were adding a new interest to 
the musical scene. 

Grand opera also had become firmly established. It had long 
been a distinctive feature of the social life of New Orleans, and 
there had been various attempts to introduce it in New York and 
other cities. Troupes of Italian singers had come and gone; 
elaborate opera houses had been opened usually to fail after 
one or two seasons. **WU this splendid and refined amusement 
be supported in New York?" we find Philip Hone asking in 1833. 
"I am doubtfuL" And for almost half a century his doubts were 
largely justified It was in 1883 that the Metropolitan Opera 
House, costing nearly $2,000,000, provided grand opera with its 
first really permanent home in America. 18 

The opening of the Metropolitan, for all its importance in the 
world of music and drama, illustrated even more vividly 
than any formal dinner or fancy-dress ball society's irresistible 
impulse to make its amusements an occasion to flaunt its wealth. 
For true music-lovers of the 1880*8 the operas currently being 
given at the Academy of Music fully met all artistic standards. 
The sole difficulty was that while there was plenty of available 
room at these performances in orchestra and galleries, every box 
at the Academy was taken for the season. And society had made 
an opera box one of the hall-marks of social success. The Metro- 
politan was built not in response to a demand for music, but to 
meet this need for fashionable display. 19 

It was financed by a group of social aspirants stung into action 
by the refusal of an offer of $30,000 for one of the boxes at the 
Academy of Music. 20 They would have their own opera house. 
Naturally enough its predominant feature became its two ornate 

When Wallack's Theatre Was New 
Harper's Weekly, 1882. 

Defense of the "Americas" Cup 

Winner .Vagif leading. Painting by James E. Butterwvorth, 1S70. Courtesy 
oi the Metropolitan Museum of Art. 

AVu- Ycrks First Coach 

Colonel De LUIK.VV Kane's "The Tally-Ho" on its first run, May 1, 1ST6. 
Lithograph alter a painting by H. C. Bisphuzn. Courtesy of Harr\ ; T. Peters. 


tiers of boxes. At the fonna! opening it was toward the Golden 
Horseshoe rather than the stage that all eyes turned. The 
Goulds and the Vanderbilts and people of that ilk/* the New 
York Dramatic Mirror reported with forthright candor on that 
memorable occasion, "perfumed the air with the odor of crisp 
greenbacks. The tiers of boxes looked like cages in a menagerie 
of monopolists," 2l 

This did not mean that the Metropolitan did not uphold the 
highest standards of operatic art. It did. Italian operas were 
staged during its first season, and musical history was made when 
German music and the Wagnerian operas were given the Metro- 
politan's formal approval in 1884. 22 The company made an an- 
nual post-season tour, visiting Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, St. 
Louis, Baltimore, Washington. . . . The world of society in these 
cities had its opportunity to emulate that of New York. Grand 
opera took its place, despite a sprinkling of more humble music- 
lovers in the upper galleries, as one of the most exclusive and 
fashionable of all diversions. 

SOCIETY had been the pioneer in the promotion of sports. We 
have seen that in the middle of the century the more wealthy 
had been almost the only people with the leisure and means 
to enjoy them. As the opportunity to play games became avail- 
able for a wider public in the 1890*5, the world of fashion tended 
more and more to favor those activities of which the expense 
definitely excluded the common man. The same impulse that 
motivated the rivalry over elaborate entertainment and opera 
boxes was responsible for an attitude toward sport in which 
conspicuous waste rather than simple enjoyment became the 
general rule. James Gordon Bennett, Jr., determined to win the 
position in society denied his father, made sport his means of 
entree into that exclusive world. He sailed yachts and fought 
his way to the proud post of commodore of the New York Yacht 
Qub; he took up coaching and drove his four-in-hand in the 


Newport parade; he introduced polo and founded the West- 
chester Polo Club. 23 

The days were indeed far distant when society, in the person 
of members of the old Knickerbocker Club, had taken up base- 
ball and endeavored to keep it an exclusive pastime. "Naturally," 
wrote a correspondent of Outing in 1894, describing the sporting 
life of fashionable Philadelphia, "since baseball is so much of a 
professional game, it can hardly come under the head of what 
we recognize as out-of-door recreation/* 2 * But society could still 
approve archery and tennis. Tournaments in these lawn games 
remained social functions. When the clubs of archers, merry 
bowmen, or toxophilites that made up the National Archeiy 
Association had their annual meeting in 1897 on the grounds of 
the Chicago White Sox, band music and refreshments still con- 
tributed to the enjoyment of a select gathering. 25 The tennis 
matches at Newport, despite increasing interest in a sport which 
had become so much more active and competitive, were also a 
festival of the fashionable world. As late as 1886 the Tribune 
Book of Open-Air Sports complacently stated that lawn tennis 
remained *the game of polite society, essentially one for ladies 
and gentlemen. 28 

Yachts and horses were expensive enough to be proof against 
any alarming tendency toward democratization, and society was 
enthusiastic over these artistocratic pastimes. There was a great 
revival of yachting, marked by renewal of the America's Cup 
races. The wealthy engaged in lively competition both in the 
regattas for smaller boats (the one-design classes had been 
introduced) sponsored by such organizations as the New York 
Yacht Club, and in the purchase of expensive and elaborate 
ocean-going yachts. In the same way, ownership of a stable of 
thoroughbreds became highly fashionable, and the very rich ex- 
tended their patronage as never before to the turf. The exclusive 
American Jockey Club was founded, an ultrafashionable course 
laid out at Jerome Park, and the Kentucky Derby became an 
annual feature of an invigorated racing calendar. 27 The common 


man could watch the races, and the gambling fraternity made a 
profitable living from betting on them, but only the very wealthy 
could support a stable. 

The horse was glorified in other ways. Fox-hunting in the 
English manner was taken up by clubs on Long Island, in the 
suburbs of Philadelphia, and in Virginia and Maiyland. In 
1885 the National Horse Show was instituted, to become one of 
the outstanding social events of the year. There was a beginning 
of polo, introduced in 1S76, at Westchester and Newport. Coach- 
ing was imported from England, a further refinement of the 
fashionable driving that already crowded the roads of such re- 
sorts as Tuxedo and Lenox with expensively turned out dog- 
carts, buckboards, landaus, and phaetons. 28 

The annual coaching parade in New York was one of the 
city's most colorful shows. Four-in-hand drags and tally-hos 
bowled down Fifth Avenue in the crisp autumn air, the guards 
gaily winding their horns, while crowds lined the street to watch 
their triumphant progress. The coaches were painted pink, blue, 
or dark-green with under-carriages of some sharply contrasting 
shade, and the beautifully matched and carefully groomed horses 
wore artificial flowers on their throat-latches. Society rode proudly 
atop these splendid equipages, the men in striped waistcoats 
and silk toppers, the ladies holding gay parasols over their im- 
mense picture hats. 29 

For the fullest enjoyment of these varied sports, a new insti- 
tution sprang into being in the 1880's the country club. The 
first of the genus is believed to have been the Brookline Country 
Club, near Boston, but it was soon followed by the Westchester 
Country Club, the Essex Country Club, the Tuxedo Club, the 
Philadelphia Country Club, the Meadowbrook Hunt Club, and 
the Country Club of Chicago. Those near the shore promoted 
yachting and sailing; others were a center for hunting, pony- 
races, and polo. Coaching parties drove out from the city for 
sports events, dances, teas, and the animal hunt ball. 80 

Together with such pastimes as lawn tennis, archery, and trap- 


shooting, some of these clubs began also to provide facilities 
for a game new to America. It was far more important than 
yachting, coaching, or polo. It was not for very long to remain, 
as Harper's Weekly termed it in 1895, "pre-eminently a game of 
good society/* It was soon to give rise to a tremendous growth 
in country clubs which were to become the special prerogative 
of the great middle class in cities and towns throughout the 
country. This sport, of course, was golf. 

It did not really take hold in this country, despite its hoary 
antiquity in Scotland and occasional attempts to introduce it on 
this side of the Atlantic ever since colonial days, until after 1888. 
The organization in that year of the St Andrews Club, near New 
York, may well be taken as the first important date in golfs 
history in the United States. 81 Other courses were built what- 
ever number of holes was most convenient after St. Andrews 
had showed the way. Soon a great number of the country clubs 
about Boston, New York, and Philadelphia had their links. By 
1892 golf was spreading westward* It took Chicago by storm 
and moved on to St. Louis, Milwaukee, Denver, and the Pacific 
Coast In 1894 the United States Golf Association was formed. 82 

No other game has evoked such scorn among the uninitiated. 
The democracy still considered tennis a rather feminine game, 
a chance to sport white flannels and gay-colored blazers rather 
than exercise. It simply did not know what to make of the 
absurd spectacle of enthusiastic gentlemen in scarlet coats furi- 
ously digging up the turf in frenzied and wholly serious efforts 
to drive a little white ball into a little round hole some hundreds 
of yards away. Nor were the red coats of these pioneer golfers 
the only article of costume that seemed singularly inappropriate 
on the rolling fairways of the new courses. They wore elaborate 
leg-wrappings to protect themselves from the gorse indigenous 
to Scottish hills but quite foreign to this country, and they 
pulled down over their foreheads visored caps in the best Sher- 
lock Holmes tradition. Women had not yet taken up the game, 
although it was already being urged upon them as an admirable 


compromise between "the tediousness of croquet and the hurly- 
burly of lawn tennis," but together with wondering little boys 
who had been pressed into service as caddies, they often accom- 
panied their lords and masters about the links. The public guf- 
fawed, little dreaming of golfs popularity in another two dec- 
ades or of the public courses of to-day. 83 

IN THE FIELD of spectator sports, which we have seen becoming 
more and more important toward the close of the century, the 
world of fashion also showed a lively interest. If it paid little 
attention to baseball, it rubbed shoulders with the roughest 
elements of the sporting world at horse-races and prize-fights, 
But above all else it turned out en masse for intercollegiate 
football. The games of the Big Three, which still provided the 
grand climax of the football season, were fully as much social 
as sporting events in the 1890's. In New York a parade of 
coaches would make its stately way to the playing-field. No small 
part of the crowd, after lunching on chicken sandwiches and 
champagne, watched the game from atop tally-hos. 

"The air was tinged with the blue and die orange and the 
black as the great throngs poured through the city over the 
bridges, invaded Brooklyn and swept like a rising tide into 
Eastern Park, 3 * the New York Tribune reported after one Yale- 
Princeton game. *They came by the railroads, horsecars, drags 
and coaches and afoot Coaches, drags and tally-hos decorated 
with the blue or the orange and black wound through the thor- 
oughfares and quiet side streets in a glittering procession, 
freighted with jubilant college boys and pretty girls, who woke 
the echoes of the church bells with the cheers and tooting of 
horns. In an almost endless procession they inundated the big 
enclosure, and when it was 2 p.m. the sight was that of a coli- 
seum of the nineteenth century, reflecting the changes and tints 
of a panoramic spectacle." 84 

The great crowds attracted by football totaling thirty and 


forty thousand 3C were naturally not entirely made up of those 
in the higher social brackets. The game had a wider appeal, as 
the tremendous publicity given it clearly proves. At the time 
of the Yale-Princeton game in 1895, the New York Journal pub- 
lished a full two and a half pages of news and sketches running 
accounts of the game, a full page of technical descriptive com- 
ment by James J. Corbett, signed stories by the captains of the 
teams, and a feature article entitled *The Journal's Woman Re- 
porter Trains with the Little Boys in Blue." 86 But despite this 
furor of publicity, football was a sport for the classes rather than 
the masses. It largely reflected the interests of the college world. 

It was dominated by the eastern universities. In one season 
Yale had a championship team with such great players as 
Heffelfinger and Hinkey which won thirteen games and piled 
up a season's score of 488 while its own goal-line was uncrossed. 
But colleges throughout the country were now taking It up and 
playing increasingly better football. By the late 1890*5 the Army- 
Navy game had become an established annual feature; among 
southern colleges, Virginia, Vanderbilt, Washington and Lee, 
had well-known teams; in the Middle West there was already 
fierce competition among such colleges as Michigan, Minnesota, 
Wisconsin, Ohio State, and the new University of Chicago; 
Leland Stanford stood out among Pacific Coast teams. 87 Even 
though Walter Camp might not have to look much beyond the 
Big Three for his famous AU-Ameriean teams, there were signs 
that the East's supremacy would soon be challenged. Intercol- 
legiate football had become a nation-wide sport 

Bitter criticism had marked its progress. The attacks made 
upon football overemphasis in the 1890s make comparable com- 
ments in the 1920's and 1930*8 appear mild and innocuous. The 
preference accorded football-players in their college work, undue 
absorption in the game through long training-seasons, the preva- 
lent spirit of winning at any cost, and the open hiring of star 
players awoke a resentment which echoed throughout the coun- 
ty. The Nation was foremost in these early onslaughts: it saw 

r/ze Social Side of Intercollegiate Baseball 
Drawing by A, I. Keller. Harper's Weekly, 1896. 


all the worst elements of American character reflected in the 
game. "The spirit of the American youth, as of the American 
man, is to win, to 'get there/ by fair means or f oul," it declared 
caustically, "and the lack of moral scruple which pervades the 
business world meets with temptations equally irresistible in the 
miniature contests of the football field." Ci Although far more 
sympathetic, the special sports writer of Harper's Weekly was 
fuHy as outspoken against the rising tide of professionalism. It 
was prevalent among the eastern colleges, but even worse in 
other parts of the country. Xo one could have any conception, 
Caspar Whitney wrote in 1S95, "of the rottenness of the whole 
structure through the middle and far West. Men are bought and 
sold like cattle to play this autumn on 'strictly amateur* elevens," ** 

The brutality of the game awoke even fiercer attacks. It was 
the day of flying wedges, tackle-back tandems, and other mass 
plays. And the injuries these tactics inevitably caused were 
supplemented by casualties arising from the frequent slugging 
and free-for-all fights which the referees were powerless to 
control. A fair-minded English observer was horrified at the 
roughness of the games. And his impressions of it were amply 
confirmed in a report he quoted from The Nation on the Har- 
vard-Yale game of 1894. It declared that one-third of the original 
combatants had had to be carried off the field. "Brewer was so 
badly injured that he had to be taken off crying with mortifica- 
tion. Wright, captain of the Yale men, jumped on him with both 
knees, breaking his collar bone. Beard was next turned over to 
the doctors. Hallowell had his nose broken. Murphy was soon 
badly injured and taken off the field in a stretcher unconscious, 
with concussion of the brain. Butterworth, who is said merely to 
have lost an eye, soon followed. . . /* 40 

The New York World expressed a growing conviction that 
reform was absolutely imperative "if ruffianism and brutality and 
sneaking cowardice are not to be bred into our youth as a part 
of their training." 41 Writing in Harpers Weekly, Tlieodore 
Roosevelt (apostle of the strenuous life) defended the game as 


best Be could, but he also declared in forthright terms that 
roughness and professionalism must cease if football was to be 
preserved. 42 

This chorus of disapproval compelled action. Under the lead- 
ership of Walter Camp, efforts were made to bring about re- 
forms. The block game was done away with through the adoption 
of the rule requiring surrender of the ball after the fourth down 
unless a gain of ten yards had been made; massed rushes were 
discouraged by providing for more open play; and referees were 
empowered to deal drastically with slugging or any unnecessary 
roughness. The attempt was made to prevent professionalism 
and enforce stricter rules of eligibility. 43 Nothing could be done 
to suppress the instinct to win by almost any means (that had 
become a part of football, and spectator interest already de- 
manded a fierce and bitter struggle), but the game was saved 
from this threat of suppression for the further triumphs which 
awaited it in the twentieth century. 

THE SOCIAL WOULD as represented by the little coterie of the 
very wealthy who gave elaborate fancy-dress balls, had their 
boxes at the opera, and hunted or played polo at the new 
country clubs was insignificant in numbers. That larger group 
of the privileged who less ostentatiously supported the legitimate 
stage, had the leisure to enjoy such sports as tennis and golf, 
and made up the college-bred crowd at football games was con- 
siderably larger, but still it did not bulk very large in a total 
population which had grown by the 1890*5 to more than sixty- 
three millions. Nevertheless this world of society in the broader 
sense had a tremendous influence in the development of recrea- 
tion, for it set the standards that the democracy tried to follow 
as best it could. 

Social activities received immense publicity in the Gilded Age. 
The extravagant balls of New York and Chicago millionaires, 
the yacht-races and the polo matches, the coaching parade at 


Newport^ were written up with great gusto and vivid detail in 
the nation's press. All the world knew what was happening in 
these circles, and very often it wanted to go out and do like- 
wise. The middle class was ambitious to take up every activity 
on which society had set the stamp of fashionable approval. 

While tirfe too often meant that a premium was placed on 
ostentation, it also encouraged the healthy growth of many forms 
of amusement. It can at least be said that society's sponsorship 
of the theatre and opera, of sports and outdoor activities, partly 
counteracted in its social effects the example it set in luxury and 



A closing decades of the past century. It was more typically 
American than the city. The people who lived and worked and 
played in its familiar environment largely made up the middle 
class which carried forward the traditions and ideals of democ- 
racy. The quarterly town dances of the Middle West were at- 
tended by banker and mill-hand, lawyer and grocery boy, their 
wives and their sweethearts. Every one gathered at the ball park 
of a Saturday afternoon to watch the local team in action and 
listened that evening to the amateur band concert in the public 
square. The town might have its "old whist crowd" and "young 
dancing crowd," as William Allen White wrote of Kansas in the 
1890's, its "lodge crowd," its "church social crowd," and its "sur- 
prise party crowd," 1 but they primarily represented people of 
common interests getting together. There was already a right and 
a wrong side of the railroad tracks, but social distinctions were 
not as rigid as they were to become in a later day. 

This neighborliness made for a pleasant informality, but it 
also imposed its restraints. The Victorian era was passing, but 
the town clung to old ways. The fact that every one knew what 
every one else was doing enforced a certain conventionality 
which often made for dullness. There had been no expansion in 
recreation comparable to that in the city. Conservatism waJs im- 
plicit in the social order, and any departure the introduction of 
the two-step at the Pastime Club's annual assembly, a production 
of Sappho at the opera house led to a storm of criticism. 

John Quincy Adams would have known just what to expect at 



a small-town party in this period. It would not have differed 
greatly from an evening at Newburyport a century earlier. He 
would have known how to play most of tihe games, including 
I Love My Love with an A. He would often have found that for- 
feits still involved that "profanation of one of the most endearing 
expressions of love" which had once so disturbed him, and thor- 
oughly approved a contemporary game book that suggested 
substitute forfeits to enable the players to avoid the "childish 
and absurd kissing of the one you love best." And the perform- 
ance of the young lady of the house, with guitar accompaniment 
should there be no piano, might well have been as trying as he 
had found it in the 1780s. 

The church still played a dominant rdle in setting the tone of 
social life. Its ban on drinking, for example, had the support of 
all the better elements in the town. Lodge night or the firemen's 
ball was sometimes a lively occasion, but even where the com- 
munity was not thoroughly dry through local option, alcoholic 
drinks were seldom served at the parties of either the surprise- 
party crowd or the young dancing crowd. Nor did the old whist 
crowd play cards for money. Church-going folk in the 1890's 
and that meant almost every onedid not countenance gambling 
in even its mildest forms. The Sabbath was generally observed. 
Whatever might be true of the city, it was not yet a day of 
recreation for the town. 

To MAEE UP for the restraints it imposed upon more worldly 
amusements, the church provided its own entertainments. Ladies* 
Aids, Christian Endeavors, and missionary societies engaged in 
lively competition over their sociables, fairs, and festivals. The 
Congregational ladies, the Methodist ladies, the Baptist ladies, 
were rivals in both good works and good times. The Sunday 
School picnic was a great occasion. The church had always been 
a center of social life since those distant colonial days when New 
England's farmers drove in to Sunday sermons and midweek 


lectures, gossiping at the horse-sheds after service, but it now 
recognized a social obligation in sponsoring community recrea- 

At the church supper, which became so universal a feature 
on the small-town social calendar, the entertainment was mild 
and innocuous by urban standards. Lectures and talks, readings 
and poetic recitations by the more gifted members of the con- 
gregation, instrumental music and singing, occasionally tableaux 
or charades, made up the usual program. Sometimes lecture 
courses were definitely arranged to meet the competition of 
commercial entertainment The First Church of Chelsea, Massa- 
chusetts, at one time advertised in the local paper "a people's 
course" of ten lectures for fifty cents, with popular speakers, 
readings, music, and stereopticon views. 2 

At the fairs, bazaars, and strawberry festivals, which had the 
further goal of raising money, there were usually grab-bags or 
figh-ponds, fortune-telling, and guessing games. Young men were 
invited to spend ten cents to see something they would hate, 
and then were shown a mitten. A cake would be sold piece by 
piece until some lucky purchaser found the ring that had been 
cooked with it At five cents a cup one could draw lemonade out 
of a miniature well. The popularity of beauty contests (which 
had come down from colonial fairs) found expression in a vote 
for the prettiest girl at the festival, the blushing winner then 
being called upon to sell kisses. A daring innovation was a game 
in which young men bid for partners hidden behind a curtain 
raised just high enough to reveal their ankles. 

In the attack that Dr. William Bayard Hale made upon the 
extent to which churches were entering the amusement field, he 
listed an exhibition of waxworks, a living-picture show, a per- 
formance of The Mikado, and a song recital in which the Peak 
sisters sang the ballad, TDo You Know the Mouth of Man?" One 
church staged the Blackbird Ballet, Sacred Female Minstrels, 
the performers appearing in burnt cork and bloomers. 8 

These more exciting ventures into the realm of vaudeville were 


admittedly exceptional. The typical church entertainment mir- 
rored the spirit of an age in which the small town faithfully 
observed Victorian concepts of propriety. In the Eighty Pleasant 
Evenings issued by the United Society of Christian Endeavor, 
there was no suggestion of such sprightly entertainment. Take 
the popular Patriotic Social: * 'Uncle Sam* or 'Columbia' in ap- 
propriate costume may receive the guests. Flags and bunting 
should decorate the walls, together with portraits of famous 
Americans, which may be made an occasion for a guessing 
contest Have a 'post-office,' the letters consisting of extracts from 
patriotic speeches. . , . The following program has been rendered 
on one occasion: 

CHORUS. 'Star Spangled Banner.* 

RECITATION. Independence Bell/ 

SOLO. "The Dying Soldier/ or The Soldier's Farewell/ 

RECITATION. *Old Ironsides/ 

CHORUS. 'Red, White and Blue/ 

A list of historic battles, with the generals commanding them 
should be prepared in advance. . . . These may be passed and 
matched to arrange partners for refreshments, which may consist 
of saltines, cheese, and phosphate of wild cherry." * 

THERE WERE other "jolly affairs'* besides church suppers and 
Ladies' Aid sociables. Trolley parties, progressive tiddly-winks, 
taffy-pulls, and surprise parties were popular. "A pleasant sur- 
prise was held last night at the elegant residence of Oliver J. . . . 
in honor of the fortieth anniversary of the birth of Mrs. Ella 
reads the account of one such party in the 1890*s as recorded 
in Middletown. "Every face was beaming with delight, and 
happiness flowed from heart to heart. . . . After dinner a season 
of song and prayer was had, after which the house was made to 
ring with music. , . . Mr. McC. . . . favored us with a song, *A 
Thousand Years My Own Columbia!'" 5 


When cards were introduced, this generation usually played, 
in addition to whist, such games as euchre, five hundred, 
seven-up, progressive fifty-eight, or Sancho Pedro. And there 
were always parlor games and conundrums: Dumb Crambo, Fiz 
Buzz, Wall Street Brokers, the Feejee Islanders at Home, Princess 
Hugger Mugger, and Hot Cockles. These were in many instances 
simply new variations of old games, and such favorites as Au- 
thors, Twenty Questions, and Going to Jerusalem were still 
popular. 6 For over a century successive American editions of 
Hoyle had been setting the established rules of play. 

Music not only played an important part in these evening 
entertainments but entered into the whole life of the town. In 
addition to local bands, there were many choral societies. Young 
people often went out of an evening to serenade one another, or 
gathered at the home of one of their number for **a sing." Every 
family that prided itself on respectability had a piano. "There 
is no country," a French writer reported, "where there are so 
many pianos and players on them." 7 In a few homes an odd 
contraption known as a talking-machine might be found (Edison 
had put it on the market about 1878), but with its tin-foil cylin- 
der record, turned by a hand crank, it was still a rather disap- 
pointing instrument Generally people who wanted music had 
to produce it themselves. Throaty tenors and quavering sopranos 
lustily sang the songs given popular currency by the minstrel 
show, the musical-comedy road company, and the circus. The 
barber-shop quartette was in its heyday; the young lady with a 
passable voice needed no other charms to be the success of the 

. The songs were sentimental, and old songs were the best songs. 
The Southern melodies introduced by the minstrels "Old Black 
Joe," "Carry Me Back to Ole Virginny," "The Old Folks at Home" 
were always favorites. At every party there was some one to 
sing such Scotch or Irish ballads as "John Anderson, My Jo," 
"Comin' Through the Rye," and "Annie Laurie." Then there 
were "Juanita," "Oh, My Darling Clementine," "Wait Till the 


Clouds Roll By, Jennie/* Tn the Gloaming," and "Kiss But Never 

A starry night for a ramble, 

In the flowery dell, 

Through the bush and bramble, 

Kiss, but never tell! 

Kiss, but never tell to any- 

Telling breaks the spell. 

Sometimes the theme was the dangers of the wicked urban 

I've come to the great city 

To find a brother dear, 

And you wouldn't dare insult me, Sir, 

If Jack were only here. 

Sidewalks of New York," "On the Banks of the Wabash," 
"Just Tell Them That You Saw Me," "O Promise Me," "The 
Boweiy," "My Gal Is a High-Born Lady," were all of the 1890's. 
It was in this prolific decade that Charles K. Harris wrote "After 
the Ball": 

Many a heart is aching 

If you could read them all; 

Many the hopes that have vanished 

After the ball. 

Reflecting prevailing standards of decorum was the pretty 
lament, "What Could the Poor Girl Do," which described the 
dilemma of the young lady endeavoring to keep her dress off 
the pavement on a rainy day: 

But what could the poor girl do? 

Boys, what could the poor girl do? 

She'd a pretty little shoe, and she liked to show it too, 

So I couldn't blame the girl, could you? 

They were sung, these songs and many others, as they never 
had been before or have been since. Young and old joined in 


the chorus. Many were the parties that broke up to "Auld Lang 
Syne" or "Good Night, Ladies" 8 

Dancing was probably not as general as it had been in the 
late eighteenth century or as it was to become in the early 
decades of the twentieth. But various clubs and associations gave 
annual balls; businessmen and their wives attended dancing- 
classes which usually terminated in an assembly or German. The 
program of one dance held in Marion, New York, during this 
period included the following numbers: lancers (5), waltz (4), 
polka (3), military march (3), quadrille (2), York (2), Port- 
land Fancy, Caledonia, and Virginia Reel, It opened with a 
grand march and closed with "Home Sweet Home." 9 In more 
worldly circles the two-step was coming into vogue. The music 
of John Philip Sousa, touring the country with his famous band, 
had introduced a more lively rhythm into dancing. The Wash- 
ington Post/* so popular that in other countries it gave its name 
to the two-step, was everywhere played at the more fashionable 
dances. 10 

LODGE NIGHT had become a nation-wide institution. Fraternal 
orders were nothing new. Freemasonry had crossed the Atlantic 
in colonial days and in the 1820's had been for a time a disturb- 
ing political issue. The Independent Order of Odd Fellows also 
dated from the middle of the eighteenth century, and among 
other organizations that were either offshoots of the Masons and 
Odd Fellows or had been newly formed somewhat in imitation 
of them were the Elks, the Knights of Pytibuas, and the Ancient 
Order of United Workmen. But after 1880 there was a phenom- 
enal increase in the number and membership of these orders. 
No less than five hundred were founded before the close of the 
century, and the nation-wide enrolment suddenly leaped to over 
six millions, something like forty per cent of the male popula- 
tion over twenty-one. 11 
The country fairly bristled with temples, camps, clans, castles, 


conclaves, rulings, hives, and tents. Some of them were limited 
to workers in certain trades and occupations, others made up 
their membership from immigrant groups, and there were many 
Negro orders. To the older organizations were added the Ancient 
Arabic Order of Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, the Independent 
Order of Good Templars, the United Order of Druids, the Tribes 
of Ben Hur, the Independent Order of Gophers, the Prudent 
Patricians of Pompeii, the Mystic Workers of the World, the 
Modern Woodmen of America, the Concatenated Order of Hoo- 
Hoo. . . . Every town had one or more lodges, their membership 
embracing every element in its society. Initiation ceremonies, 
the induction of new members, carnivals, and other fraternal 
social functions became more and more important. 12 

Many men joined the orders for the sake of the sickness and 
death benefits they provided, which were the nominal purpose 
of their being formed; others took out membership because they 
felt it advisable for business or to make useful social contacts. 
But such prosaic reasons could not possibly explain the amazing 
stampede to become a Mason or an Odd Fellow, an Elk or a 
Gopher, in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. It was 
the urge to be accepted as one of the crowd half a century 
earlier Alexis de Tocqueville had diagnosed America as a nation 
of joiners and to be able to slip away for a time from one's 
humdrum daily routine into a mysterious world of pageantry 
and make-believe. 

The elaborate ceremony and ritual of the lodge, with its secret 
grips and passwords; the colorful regalia of the officers; the 
grandiloquent titles and forms of address, provided such a strik- 
ing contrast to workshop or factory, to the dull level of so much 
home life, that their appeal could hardly be withstood. There 
were so few other ways to forget the cares of trade or business- 
no movies or radio to create an even more fantastic land of 
never-never. Any one might find himself a Most Illustrious Grand 
Potentate, Supreme Kahalijah, or Most Worthy and Illustrious 
Imperial Prince on lodge night In gorgeous robes of state, jew- 


eled collars, imposing helmets or high-crowned fezzes; carrying 
the swords, lances, and axes that constituted the impressive 
symbols of their office, butchers and bakers and candlestick 
makers strutted for a brief hour before a worshiping audience of 
Knights and Nobles, Nomads and Rams sometimes Daughters 
of Isis or Pythian Sisters in all the magnificence of the bor- 
rowed plumes of mystic imagery. The lodges had become a na- 
tional vice, a contemporary critic wrote in the Atlantic Monthly; 
a contributor to the Century found them the great American 
safety-valve. 13 

Many other organizations were witness to the national love 
for joining something. One foreign visitor, touring the country 
in 1892, was amazed at the number and variety of associations 
"founded simply to make it easier to procure some pleasure." 14 
But most of them had at least originally a practical purpose. 
Militia companies still held annual musters, and though they^ 
may not have been as exciting occasions as the old colonial 
training days, the whole town would turn out to watch the 
drills and parades, listen to the band music, and help the militia- 
men celebrate. More colorful were the musters and carnivals 
staged by the local volunteer firemen. Sometimes companies from 
the neighboring towns of half a state would gather, resplendent 
in red shirts and shiny helmets, for fierce contests with the old 
hand-pumping engines. The company that sent a stream of water 
farthest won a championship as important as that of the local 
baseball league. There were also local posts of the G.A.R., work- 
ingmen's clubs, sports clubs, and businessmen's associations 
pointing the way to Rotary and Kiwanis. The town was honey- 
combed with such organizations, and everywhere the general 
pattern of their activities was much the same. 

Women were not left out of this movement to organize, They 
had auxiliaries formed on the lines of the men's fraternal orders- 
Daughters of Rebekah, Pythian Sisters, Daughters of Isis; asso- 
ciations such as the Women's Relief Corp and Ladies* Aid; and 
a wide array of social dubs which multiplied in this period as 

A Chautauqua Tent 
Courtesy of H. J. Thornton. 

Side of 

FeichtTs troupe of 

Tyrolese yodelers. 

Courtesy of H. J. 



never before. There were Shakespeare and Beethoven Circles, 
Noon-Day Rest Clubs, Old Maids* Socials, and Ladies* High 
Jinks, to a total, before the century closed, which is only par- 
tially indicated by the twelve hundred associations formally 
banded together in the General Federation of Women's Clubs. 15 

"We have art clubs, book clubs, dramatic clubs, pottery clubs," 
a contemporary wrote. "We have sewing circles, philanthropic 
associations, scientific, literary, religious, athletic, musical and 
decorative art societies/* 16 A visiting Frenchwoman declared 
that the absence of men would make her compatriots feel "as 
if they were eating bread without butter.** 17 The American 
women appeared to get along very well under these distressing 

These clubs represented a conscious effort to fill the increasing 
leisure that the machine age was making available to the middle- 
class housewife. Her ordinary work was greatly cut down by 
factory manufacture of things formerly made in the home and 
by the introduction of innumerable labor-saving devices. "House- 
keeping is getting to be ready-made, as well as clothing,*' one 
magazine writer stated in 1887. 18 While the men generally had 
as long hours of work as they had had before, their wives found 
themselves with free afternoons which they could devote to 
outside activities. A zealous pursuit of culture, rather than 
pleasure, was the primary goal of the woman's club, but the 
lectures, reading of members* papers, and discussions over the 
tea-table fell within that vague territory where the boundaries 
between instruction and recreation can hardly be defined. 

AN ENTIRELY different phase of recreational life centered about 
the local opera house. Here traveling lecturers, road companies, 
and variety shows periodically appeared to give the townspeople 
their one taste of urban entertainment. In quick succession they 
might welcome Russell H. Conway giving his famed talk on 
"Acres of Diamonds'* (this popular version of the idea that 


there are riches in your own back yard was given over five 
thousand times); a Merry Maidens burlesque show; Robert 
Mantell in a repertoire of Shakespearean plays; an Uncle Tom's 
Cabin company; and a traveling combination presenting the 
latest Broadway hit 19 Although the opera house might attempt 
to book "first class attractions only/* it was in much the same 
position as the mid-century theatre. Its productions had to reach 
all members of the community. If serious drama and vaudeville 
acts were not combined in one performance, as they so often 
had been in the 1850*s, popular demand caused them to alter- 
nate almost weekly. 

The annual session of Chautauqua was for many a small town 
the grand climax of this entertainment It was sometimes the 
sole occasion when outside talent mounted the platform to offer 
a glimpse of what was happening in the larger world. This 
institution for "the Chautauqua/* had a nation-wide scope- 
had developed out of a camp-meeting course for Sunday-School 
teachers started in 1874. As it grew to embrace the whole field of 
adult education, other Chautauquas were established throughout 
the country, the summer courses were supplemented by winter 
lecture series, and reading groups enrolled in the Literary and 
Scientific Circle. In the 1890*s there were some seventy Chau- 
tauquas. When the twentieth century developed its far-flung 
system of chain organizations, totaling some ten thousand in 
1919, the nation-wide audience slowly grew to an estimated 
forty million. 20 

Chautauqua was cultural and educational. Its lectures, how- 
ever, were always supplemented by an entertainment program. 
When a meeting was held, especially in the small towns of the 
Middle West, it would be attended by hundreds of neighboring 
farmers as well as townspeople. They would camp on grounds 
made available near the auditorium or lecture tents, and for a 
solid week enjoy an astounding succession of learned and inspira- 
tional talks interlarded with the performances of xylophone or- 
chestras, Swiss yodelers, jugglers and magicians, college-girl 

Who's Who in Cbautauqua 1920 

First Day 


The New York Glee Club 

Great male quartet direct from remarkable record in 
eastern titles. Andres Merkel, 1st tenor, George D. 
Dewey, 2nd tenor, D. Ward Steady, baritone, and Win, 
J. Williams, basso. Four soloists with a most unusual 
ensemble; Song- harmony by music's most popular 
voice combination. 


Lou J. BeancLamp "Taking tie Sonny Side" 

Known as "The Laughing Philosopher." Said to 
cause more laughter in one evening than any man on 
the platform. Traveled more than million mifc-y m old 
world and the new. Nineteen ocean trips. Investi- 
gated the lives of the underworld in America's large 
cities, writing for the press. His books selling through 
two and three editions, and translated into foreign 
tongues. Poems on child-life part of the folk lore of 
the land. 

Germanie Mallebay Company 

Headed by Mile. Mallebay, noted opera singer from 
Paris, and favorite pupil of M. Hettich of the National 
Conservatory. Three other artists, Miss Helen Carney, 
violinist, Clyde Matson, tenor, and Miss Margaret 
Everett, pianist and accompanist One of the strongest 
musical companies on the American concert stage. 

Second Day 

Frank Dixon 
"The Indispensable Took of Democracy" 

A keen, constructive satirist. One of America's fore- 
most economists, who for 17 years has used platform 
to discuss country's vital problems. One of the "plat- 
form giants' 1 of tbis-day. Masterful, scholarly, brilliant, 
eloquent. Loaded with burning facts about democracy, 
which the people want to know. 

Third Day 


Elwood T. Bailey 
"The Call of the Hoar" 

An intensely human speaker, painter of graphic word *It Pays to Advertise.' 
pictures, inspirer to action. Close student of men and " 

situations. Was with the "Devil Dog" Marines at 
Chateau Thierry, wounded and gassed. Fired with the 
spirit of Americanism, brotherhood and loyalty. 

"The Elixir of Yortk" 

The great American farce comedy with New York 
cast Concerning the discovery of a substance sup- 
posed to transform old age into youth. Funnier than 
Concocted ; ' 

I along the lines of 

the greatest number of laughs. The best joy-tonic, 
world-brightener, delicious, sparkling cure for the blues 
on the market. Runs over with witty lines, ludicrous 
situations, funny characters. 


Dixie Giris 

Five talented, winsome girls from below the Mason- 
Dixon line. Dispensing the sunshine and charm of 
the Southland, telling stories of their own native south- 
ern folk, and singing and playing the rich, southern 

Fourth Day 

Robert Bowman 

Through years of study, observation, and experience, 
achieved the front rank among character impersonators. 
By the aid of stage "make-up* brings the world's most 
interesting characters to the chautauqua platform. 
"The Immortal Lincoln," "Shylock," "Our Imported 
Americans," and "Characters From Life and Litera- 
ture," some of the high spots in his humor and pathos 


Fifth Day 

"County Fair" 
"Hey, Skinnay! Cm On Over!" 

Lots, 'n lots, r n lots of fun! Big County Fair 
n'eveiythingf Balloon Man, Nigger Baby Rack, Prize 
Animals. Powerful Katrinka, Sword Swallower, Fire 
Eater and Fortune Teller, 'n whole shootin* match! 
Big parade and stunt program at chantauqua. 

Prof. Abel Cantu "Mexico Todcc? 

Of a fine, Mexican family, educated in the colleges of 
his own land, followed by graduate work in American 

universities. Professor at University of Wisconsin, 
and Crane Technical High School of Chicago. Authori- 
tative information on Mexico at a time when the subject 
of intervention is momentous. 


Landis Singing Orchestra 

Form a six-piece orchestra, rendering gems from the 
symphony classics and syncopated rag-time melodies, 
a male quartet harmonizing on the tunes the people 
love to hear, and a vocal, mixed sextet, presenting 
songologues and "pep" stunts new and noveL 

Junior Chautauqua 9:00 a.m. Afternoon Program 2:30 p.m. Evening Program 8:00 p. m. 

Program of a Typical Chautauqua Week 
The Redpath-Vawter System offerings at Mflford, Iowa, June 2-6, 1920. 


octettes, boy whistlers, dramatic monologists, and jubilee singers. 
Sports also were encouraged in the afternoon, with croquet for 
the ladies and baseball for the men. "The Chautauqua," declared 
one of its early speakers, "is a cross between a camp meeting 
and a country fair." 21 

The atmosphere was highly moral. There could be no drinking 
or smoking; the Sabbath was rigidly observed. A Methodist 
Dining Tent or Christian Endeavor Ice Cream Tent supplied 
all refreshments. Since Chautauqua derived its chief support 
from the churches and ladies'-aid societies, the emphasis was 
always placed on the importance of "the Work." As entertain- 
ment inevitably proved the more potent drawing-card, it had to 
be given all possible protective coloring. The prominent singer 
lectured" on "The Road to Mandalay"; the monologist "gave a 
reading" rather than a dramatic performance. When in Chau- 
tauqua^ later days a musical company staged Carmen, it was 
considered necessary to have the heroine work in a dairy rather 
than in a cigarette factory. 22 

To meet the town's insistent demand for lectures, the Redpath 
Lyceum Bureau had for long been sending out the most prom- 
inent speakers P. T. Barnum and Horace Greeley, Wendell 
Phillips and Henry Ward Beecher, Mark Twain, Bill Nye and 
James Whitcomb Riley, Presidents Grant, Hayes, Garfield, and 
McKfnley, William Jennings Bryan, Viscount Bryce. . . , 23 Here 
was a strong force, one of the most powerful in operation in the 
1890's, to broaden the lives of the middle class. Chautauqua was 
a typically American institution whose cultural and recreational 
aspects were subtly merged in an age which did not yet know 
the radio. 

The more openly avowed entertainment presented at the 
opera house by the traveling road companies, which between 
1880 and 1900 (as listed by the New Yorfc Dramatic Mirror) 
increased from some forty-odd to over five hundred, 24 included 
almost everything that was being staged at city theatres. Among 
the performances scheduled for the small towns bf Indiana dur- 


ing a week in December, 1898, were a repertoire of Shake- 
spearean plays, several comedies from Broadway, a minstrel 
show, a musical comedy, and several melodramas and variety 
shows. The Boston Lyric Opera Company was playing at the 
Grand Opera House in Marion, and the John L. Sullivan Com- 
pany was booked at Kokomo. Logansport was enjoying Black 
Patti's Troubadours, and Elkhart a concert series by Sousa*s 
Band. Eldon's Comedians (Pearl White was once a member of 
this troupe) staged at Dunkirk three plays representing the most 
distinctive phases of American life The Slums of Greater New 
York, A Country Sweetheart, and The Pride of the West. At the 
Grand Opera House in Anderson there was a revival of an old 
favorite by Jerome's Black Crook Extravaganza Company. 25 

At any time during the 1890's at least one opera house some- 
where in the land was producing East Lynne; Denman Thomp- 
son was always on the road in The Old Homestead (it earned 
over $3,000,000); The Two Orphans had already had more 
than twenty-five hundred performances; and Joseph Jefferson, 
beloved from coast to coast, had become a part of American 
folklore in the familiar r61e of Rip Van Winkle. 

The smaller towns seldom had very much choice as to what 
they might see. "Doubtless there are worse theatrical companies 
than those which visit Kansas,** William Allen White wrote in 
the Atlantic Monthly in 1897, "but no one has ever described 
them/* 26 In many cases they were poorer than the old stock 
companies they had so completely displaced. There were not 
enough actors to meet the growing demand of the local opera 
houses, and performances were staged that would have em- 
barrassed the hardy troupers who barn-stormed through the 
Mississippi Valley in pioneer days. Their quality would hardly 
have been known from the advance notices. Every variety or 
minstrel show promised something bigger and better than the 
town had ever seen. The poorest of the little comedy troupes, 
rushing through the countryside playing one-night stands at 
villages which were hardly on the map, were billed as star at- 


tractions straight from Broadway. One may follow their blazing 
path the Bootless Baby Company, the Hands Across the Sea 
Company, the She, Him, Her Comedy Company as they arrived 
in town of a late afternoon, hopefully staged their show, and 
either that very night or early the next morning were again on 
their way. During a single fortnight in December, 1889, one 
such company played fourteen stands from Creston, Iowa, to 
Adrian, Michigan; another put on an equal number of perform- 
ances in a string of eastern towns from Herkimer, New York, 
to Keene, New Hampshire. 27 

Marie Dressier has recalled in her reminiscences many of the 
trials and tribulations these second-rate companies experienced 
on the road. She played in cheap dramatic stock for a weekly 
wage of $6.00, and, as in an earlier day, the cast often did not 
know their lines and ad-libbing was a necessary art. At some 
of their brief stands the excitement of their arrival brought out 
welcoming crowds, and after the performance the stage door 
would be blocked with local admirers. In other places their 
reception would be so frigid that they were forced to play to 
almost empty houses and perhaps would be left completely 
stranded. A lingering prejudice against everything connected 
with the theatre led many a New England boarding-house to 
refuse to take in actors or actresses. They were ostracized in a 
world of railroad trains, second-rate rooming-houses, and cheap 
restaurants. 28 

The musical shows had the most difficult time. For all their 
glowing advertisements "breezy dialogue, gorgeous stage set- 
tings, dazzling dancing, spirited repartee, superb music, opulent 
costumes" their settings were often woefully inadequate, their 
costumes old and dingy, and their performances uninspired and 
shabby. It was a practice to recruit new members of the cast 
while on the road. Marie Dressier tells of the surprising church 
attendance of the producers, watching the choir for possible ad- 
ditions to their show's chorus. 

The Tommers were still playing America's favorite drama in 


village and hamlet. Their performances, heralded by street 
parades, might be staged at either the local opera house or under 
canvas. To make up for possible deficiencies in the cast, and also 
for the lack of novelty in the old play, some announced two 
Uncle Toms, two Simon Legrees, two Little Evas. One company 
added prize-fighters to its cast, having the colored pugilist Peter 
Jackson spar a few rounds with Joe Choynski. 29 These expedients 
were not always successful. After one performance a Minnesota 
newspaper reported laconically: "Thompson's Uncle Tom's 
Cabin Company appeared at the opera house last night. The dogs 
were poorly supported." 30 

Despite the large number of traveling combinations, there was 
another basic disparity in the theatrical entertainments of town 
and city entirely apart from the general standards of acting. 
This was the relative infrequency of performances at the opera 
house in contrast to the wide choice of nightly entertainment 
offered by the dozen or more theatres and vaudeville houses in 
the larger cities. 31 The small town had more in the way of 
commercial amusements than ever before, but this was often 
not more than a single show in the week. And sometimes the 
opera house would be darkened for months on end. 

OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES represented a more important phase of 
recreation. Lawns, back yards, and playing-fields, so totally 
lacking in the cities, opened the way to active participation in 
the new sports and games that had been introduced by society. 
In every part of the United States, on Saturday afternoons and 
holidays, even in some localities on Sundays, there were in 
progress baseball matches among teams representing the town, 
the factory, the athletic club, the high school, or the Y.M.C.A. 
This sport was a distinctive feature of New England town life; 
it had invaded the rural areas of the South. In the newspaper 
of any western town one may read of local games. Under such 
names as the Striped Stockings or Blue Belts, teams in Kansas 


and Nebraska carried on a lively feud, tike Wichita Eagle stating 
as early as 1873 that baseball (closely pressed by croquet, mum- 
ble peg, and keno) was the community's favorite game. 32 

A more interesting development was the rapidly growing 
popularity of the new indoor winter sport of basketball. It has a 
unique status. It is the only popular American game that is 
not derived from some sport whose origins may be clearly traced 
to England. Baseball and football have been thoroughly Amer- 
icanized by a slow process of evolution, but basketball sprang 
fully developed on a world which little realized that in time it 
was to be played by more persons (including boys and girls) and 
draw larger numbers of spectators than any other sport not 
excepting either professional baseball or intercollegiate football. 

Working at the Y.M.C.A. training school in Springfield, Massa- 
chusetts, in 1891, James A. Naismith became impressed with the 
very real need for an indoor game that might serve during the 
winter as a practical substitute for baseball and football. It had 
to be active and highly competitive, but he hoped to avoid the 
roughness which in these years was bringing football into such 
disrepute. Basketball, the result of his thinking along these lines, 
caught on immediately. Its sponsorship by the Y.M.C.A. pro- 
vided the means to carry it throughout the country and also to 
other parts of the world. It was taken up almost at once by col- 
leges, high schools, and athletic clubs. 33 

So popular did it become that, as in the case of both baseball 
and football, the problem of professionalism soon arose. Basket- 
ball was threatened by all the evils of gambling and fixed 
games. 34 Strict enforcement of amateur rules, however, was more 
feasible in the case of basketball than in that of either baseball 
or football because it was so widely played by Y.M.C.A. and 
school teams. It was for many years kept on a non-professional 
basis, and so popular did it prove among boys that a modified 
form of it was devised for girls. 

Among other games, the craze for croquet, which at one time 
had been so universal that manufacturers could not keep up 


with the demand for sets, had somewhat subsided. It remained 
a popular pastime, but it no longer aroused the nation-wide 
excitement of the days when for the first time it allowed boys 
and girls, men and women, to enjoy an outdoor game together. 
They were now doing too many things in company for croquet to 
have its original novelty. Interest in tennis was increasing, but at 
a relatively slow rate. It was still largely a sport for society. The 
young college graduates of the 1890*s were bringing it back with 
them to the home town, but it had to overcome the prejudice 
that it was rather a sissy game which no good baseball player 
would be seen playing. 

In The Gentleman from Indiana Booth Tarldngton describes 
the sensation caused by his hero when he appeared in tennis 
flannels. Dim memories were stirred in the minds of the store- 
keeping postmaster and his sister over "that there long-tennis 
box we bought and put in the window, and the country people 
thought it was a seining outfit." 

"It was a game, the catalogue said/ observed Miss Selina. 

* It was a mighty pore investment,* the postman answered." 35 

The popularity of roller-skating had also waned. Boys and 
girls still skated happily on the period's wooden sidewalks, but 
adult skating no longer aroused the enthusiasm of the 1880*s. 
The cities had their rinks, but in many a provincial town they 
had been converted to other uses. A. G. Spalding did not find it 
necessary to issue another guide, and the sale of skates fell off 

The most universal sport of city, town, and country was bicy- 
cling. We have seen how it first won popular favor, but the 
golden age of the wheel was the 1890's. The invention of the 
safety bicycle, equipped with pneumatic tires, and of the drop- 
frame for women riders had made it available for every one. 
There were something like a million bicycles in the country in 
1893, and soon production was running each year as high as 
this nation-wide total. 30 Every sizable community had its club, 


associated with the League of American Wheelmen, and rising 
armies of riders sallied forth every week-end. One commentator 
found cycling rapidly becoming "more popular than all other 
out-of-door recreations combined"; 87 another declared it to be a 
final answer to those captious critics who "used to call us money- 
grubbers, and talk about our excessive lust for the almighty 
dollar:* 38 

It met opposition in some quarters. Its effect on other activi- 
ties and occupations was occasionally viewed with alarm. A 
writer in The Forum declared that the piano trade had been 
cut in half, and that of the livery-stable reduced to little more 
than a third, because of the competition of the bicycle. Even 
the barbers suffered because the young man took his girl out 
bicycling instead of to the theatre, and therefore did not need 
to get a shave! Bicycling led to wholesale violation of the Sab- 
bath. The churches were empty while long lines of Sunday 
cyclists could be seen rolling down hill "to a place where there 
is no mud on the streets because of its high temperature/* 89 
And while bicycling for women was generally encouraged, the 
Women's Rescue League, in Washington, issued a fierce blast 
against it on both physical and moral grounds. It declared that 
within ten years all female cyclists would be invalids, and in 
the meantime the temptations of the road were daily swelling 
the army of outcast women, 40 

Nevertheless, cycling remained so popular that no question 
of the day agitated the monthly journals more seriously than 
bicycle fashions for women. What could be done about the 
amply-skirted? "Her windage is multiplied, and so is the exertion 
she needs to bring to bear on her riding," sadly lamented one 
handbook. "Added to that, her mind is continually on the strain 
that her skirt may be preserved in a position of seemliness.^ 41 
Godey's Lady's Book as usual came to the rescue. It advocated a 
kilted skirt trimmed with fancy brandenburgs, jacket bodice and 
vest, doth cap and leggings. Other arbiters of fashion favored 
divided skirts and top-boots; there were suggestions that even 


bloomers ("bifurcated garments extending from the waist to 
knee") might be worn without offense to female dignity and 
modesty. Victorian scruples were giving way before the demand 
for greater freedom in costume. Folded screens to protect the 
feet and ankles from view when mounting or riding were ad- 
vertised in the Scientific American, but the lady cyclist seldom 
bothered with them. 42 "A few years ago," one writer commented, 
"no woman would dare venture on the street with a skirt that 
stopped above her ankles, and leggings that reached obviously to 
her knees. . . . [The bicycle] has given to all American woman- 
kind the liberty of dress for which the reformers have been 
sighing for generations/' 43 It was a development, this recognition 
that women too had legs, of very real significance. 

Bicycling was exercise and sport. It was the rediscovery of the 
outdoors. It was romance. What popular song of the 1890's is 
better remembered than "Daisy Bell": 

. . . youTl look sweet, 

Upon the seat 

Of a bicycle built for two. 

Businessmen, housewives, working people, youths and maidens, 
all took to the wheel. 

The League of American Wheelmen had its consuls every- 
where to further the interests of cyclists. It gave the stamp of 
official approval to League hotels and promoted the good-roads 
movement. With mass production came lower prices and still 
further popularity. The bicycle had more than fulfilled its early 
promise. The countryside was transformed under its influence. 
The editor of Scribner's asked in 1896 whether anything had 
happened since the building of the first locomotive to affect so 
materially the human race. Four years later an expert of the 
Census Bureau declared that few articles ever used by man had 
created so great a revolution in social conditions. 44 

Other outdoor activities of the town might be cited. Among 
those who owned a carriage, or could afford to patronize the 


local livery-stable, there was always a great deal of driving and 
informal trotting matches. Young men still found the buggy ride 
the most pleasant way of courting. Winter sleighing had lost 
none of its popularity, and skating always had its enthusiasts. 
There were many rod and gun clubs, which promoted competi- 
tive shoots with neighboring towns as well as hunting and 
fishing. Athletic clubs, drawing upon both business and work- 
ing-class membership, occasionally held track and field events. 
But the outstanding form of outdoor recreation in the American 
town of the 1890*s, for old and young, men and women, was 

SMALL-TOWN STUFF! Skim through the pages of the local paper, 
in New England, the South or the Middle West, at any time 
during the 1890's, and there is the record of those amusements 
and entertainments which so largely served to give the American 
town its distinctive character. Simple and homely, far removed 
from the glittering gaiety of the urban world, they provided the 
recreation half a century ago of a people still living in what 
we nostalgically call the horse-and-buggy era. 

In one town during a single week at the close of the century > 
new officers were formally installed at the Golden Cross Com- 
mandery, a Baptist ladies* social was attended by over one 
hundred ("supper was served and all sorts of games and music 
helped to make the time pass quickly away*), and the dramatic 
club staged a performance for the benefit of the Grange. The 
Fessenden Helping Hand Society gave a supper and social, and 
a traveling company presented My Friend from India at the 
Opera House. Twelve pairs took part in the Tuesday-night whist 
tournament^ forty couples attended the adult dancing-class, and 
a number of informal sleighing parties were held. There were 
announced, among other coming events, a banquet of the Wheel 
Club, at which the governor of the state and other prominent 
guests were to be treated to a number of "entertaining musical 


features**; an old-fashioned dance sponsored by the Oasis En- 
campment, I.O.O.F.; a lecture under the auspices of the Daugh- 
ters of the American Revolution; a basketball game with a 
neighboring town; and a fair and festival of the Universalist 
Society, dancing from 8:30 to 1 with Leitsinger's orchestra. 45 

Here it all is a life which had not greatly changed in the 
course of years and was to continue almost uninterrupted in 
some parts of the country for another half -century. But the in- 
ventions of a new age were soon to alter greatly the underlying 
pattern, not as much as in the city or in the more completely 
rural areas, but enough to broaden the town's horizons and to 
introduce into its simple lif e a growing sophistication. 



\~s he lack of amusements in the rural America of the late nine- 
teenth century. Life on the farm varied greatly in different parts 
of the country, but it could not anywhere offer social or recrea- 
tional opportunities comparable to those of town or city. A 
majority of all Americans two out of every three people still 
lived in the country despite the increasing exodus to the cities- 
found themselves largely cut off from both the commercial 
amusements and the organized sports which had so transformed 
urban recreation. 

In the Middle West, more typical of the agrarian scene than 
any other part of the country, the isolation which the telephone, 
the automobile, and the radio have now broken down was espe- 
cially marked. The farmer was often miles from his nearest neigh- 
bor, and even farther away from the town. The incessant labor, 
the almost unbroken daily routine, and the dreary loneliness of 
the great farms being opened up on the prairies have been de- 
scribed again and again in sectional novel and autobiography. 
The lack of amusements played no small part in stirring up the 
discontent that led to agricultural revolt and to the Populist 
movement of the 1890's. 

An even gloomier picture is sometimes drawn of rural life in 
the East with its equally back-breaking work and often less fa- 
vorable rewards. "As for amusements and recreation," Nathaniel 
Egleston wrote in 1878, "there is next to none, at least that is 
worthy of the name. It has beea said of the New England vil- 
lagers particularly that their only recreations are their funeral 



occasions. . . . Life drags on with an almost unvarying round of 
toil. There is little to break up its monotony. 9 * x 

There were several factors in the latter half of the century 
that tended, to make the country scene duller than it had ever 
been before. Tn town one can find the swimming school, the 
gymnasium, the dancing master, the shooting gallery, opera, 
theatre, and panorama," Emerson had written in mid-century. 
"In the country he can find solitude and reading, manly labor, 
cheap living, and his old shoes; moors for game, hills for geology, 
and groves for devotion." 2 But not all the world was a philos- 
opher, and in the busy life of the 1890*s the greater opportunities 
of the city were increasingly responsible for that drift to metrop- 
olis which had its obverse side in rural stagnation. 

^Sloven farms alternate with vast areas of territory half forest, 
half pasturage," wrote one observant traveler in the New Eng- 
land of 1892; "farm buildings, partly in ruins, testify at once to 
the former prosperity of agricultural industry and to its present 
collapse." Another traveler was struck by the number of aban- 
doned churches, dismantled academies, and moribund lodges 
in sections where the greater number of inhabitants had fled 
"to the manufacturing villages, to the great cities, to the West." 8 
The mute evidence of this depopulation still remains in stone 
fences running through land now completely overgrown, in the 
crumbling foundations of houses long since deserted. Every pres- 
ent-day resident of New England encounters them in cross- 
country rambles. 

Under such circumstances the young people were oppressed 
by the growing contrast between their drab lives and the free- 
dom of the city. With the loss of the more active and enterprising 
members of the community, the stay-at-homes often lacked the 
initiative to make the most of such opportunities as still remained 
to them. They resigned themselves to the limited and circum- 
scribed life that the depleted countryside represented. Moreover, 
where conditions were more favorable, as has already been 
pointed out, there was no longer the diversity of occupations on 


the farm which had given so much variety to rural life in earlier 
days. Without any shortening of the long hours of labor from 
sunrise to sunset, the fanner had to work on day after day at the 
same routine jobs planting and reaping, the endless weeding of 
crops, and a multitude of daily chores. Nor could he count, as he 
had in the past, upon many interruptions to this steady grind. 
There were still hunting and fishing. The latter remained in some 
parts of the country a favorite diversion, but the good old days 
were passing for hunting. The fanner had his rifle or shotgun, 
possibly a pack of dogs, but the growing scarcity of game, and 
restrictions on such shooting as still remained, greatly limited the 
scope of what had once been such universal sport. 

Something was lost and for settlers in the Middle West it was 
within their own experience as the years rolled on and agri- 
culture became more a demanding business and less a way of 
life. Fencing the land and driving out the game marked progress. 
So did improved farm machinery reapers, self-binding har- 
vesters, engines for threshing grain. They also spelled the end of 
an era. 

Hamlin Garland has described how the West was affected by 
these changes. "Buoyant, vital, confident," he wrote of his family 
and their neighbors in their early years of pioneering, "these sons 
of the border bent to their work of breaking sod and building 
fences quite in the spirit of sportsmen. . . . With them reaping 
was a game, husking corn a test of endurance and skill, threshing 
a ^bee*. . . . My father's laughing descriptions of the barn-raisings, 
harvestings and rail-splittings of the valley filled my mind with 
vivid pictures of manly deeds." But as time went on there were 
fewer and fewer of "the changing works" which had served to 
bring people together. "We held no more quilting bees or barn 
raisings," he wrote of conditions a decade later. "Women visited 
less often. . . . The work on the farms was never ending, and all 
teams were in constant use during week days. The young people 
got together on one excuse or another, but their elders met only 
at public meetings." * 


For all this evidence of the dreariness of rural life, a picture 
of the country painted in such somber colors would nevertheless 
not be wholly true. There were compensations for the passing of 
old sports and pastimes. The fanner still had an independence 
and freedom which the clerk and factory worker lacked; he still 
had the active outdoor life from which the city dweller was cut 
oft He was never wholly deprived of normal recreation. His op- 
portunities were rare, spaced at long intervals, but for that very 
reason they meant a great deal to him. He enjoyed them with 
an intensity which his city cousin, often surfeited with a wealth 
of easy entertainment, seldom experienced. Frequency alone is 
no test for the value of amusements. The isolated farm family 
may well have got a greater sum of enjoyment from its occasional 
social gathering or informal entertainment than urbanites could 
possibly derive from all their passive commercialized amuse- 
ments. The Grange meeting, a social at the local school-house, a 
country dance, the Fourth of July picnic, the annual county 
fair, the coming of the circus here were events looked forward 
to for months with eager anticipation, and remembered for 
months afterwards with continuing pleasure* 

THE GRANGE had been founded, as the Patrons of Husbandry, 
in 1867. A secret fraternal order, somewhat along the lines of the 
Odd Fellows, its organizers hoped it could do something to aid 
the farmers through various cooperative activities. Its growth was 
amazing as might be expected in a period which was to witness 
such a rapid multiplication of fraternal orders, women's clubs, 
and other comparable organizations. Within six years there were 
fifteen thousand local granges scattered throughout the country, 
most numerous in the Middle West and South, with a total mem- 
bership of a million and a half. The Patrons of Husbandry were 
fully embarked on a broad program of agricultural education, co- 
operative buying and selling, and political activity. 5 
The Grange meeting, whatever the business under discussion, 

A New England Straw Ride 
Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, 1869. 

A Grange Meeting in an Illinois School-House 
Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, 1874. 

Tlie Day We Celebrate 

Engraving by John C. McRae after a painting by F. A. Chapman, 1875. 
Courtesy of the New York Historical Society. 


soon became the principal social gathering of the farm com- 
munity. And this aspect of it was emphasized by the presence 
of women, admitted from the first into full membership. They 
gave the Grange a vitality it could not otherwise have had. 
There were sometimes other farm organizations hat promoted 
rural recreation. In Iowa an Anti-Horse Thief Association, having 
largely succeeded in its goal of affording protection for its mem- 
bers* live stock, concerned itself with the lighter side of life. 6 
But the Grange was the social leader. It undertook to organize 
lectures and concerts, held young people's debates and spelling- 
bees, promoted singing-schools, and arranged evenings of gen- 
eral entertainment. 

The latter were usually held at the school-house; it was the 
community center. The bleak little building might be bare and 
unadorned, but swinging oil lamps and the cheerful warmth 
of its large wood stove quickly transformed it into an attractive 
meeting-place. The wooden benches or desk seats, initialed by 
the jack-knives of countless school-boys, were rearranged for the 
audience, and tiie chairman or speaker took the proud eminence 
of the teacher's platform. The farm families would drive in from 
miles around, often bringing box suppers, and spend a long eve- 
ning over the simplest amusements. The program would be very 
much like that of the social in a small town. Recitations were 
popular, and the singing of old songs. There were sometimes 
charades or tableaux. If there were refreshments, they were 
usually coffee and doughnuts. 

Sometimes at these entertainments at the school-house, and 
once in a while at some farmer's house, there would be a coun- 
try dance. They were family affairs, young and old taking part. 
Chairs and tables would be pushed back, the fiddler get out 
his precious instrument, and the company wait expectantly for 
the shouted signal "Ba-al-ance all" or "A-al-all dance." 

"It was a joy to watch him 'start the set,' " reads a description 
of one country fiddler (also the butcher and horse-doctor) called 
upon for a farm-house dance. "With a fiddle under his chin he 


took his seat in a big chair on the kitchen table in order to 
command the floor. 'Farm on, farm on!' he called disgustedly. 
^Lively now!* and then, when all the couples were in position, 
with one mighty No. 14 boot uplifted, with one bow laid to the 
strings he snarled, 'Already Gelang! 9 and with a thundering- 
crash his foot came down. 'Honors tew your pardners right and 
left Four!' And the dance was on!" 7 

The tunes were "Money Musk," "Fisher's Hornpipe," "The 
Irish Washerwoman," "Cut the Pigeon Wing," 'Turkey in the 
Straw" all the old favorites. One very popular was the minstrel 
song "Old Dan Tucker." It gave rise to a dance, sometimes known 
as the "tag dance," which foreshadowed a modern custom. At 
one point the fiddler, or whoever was calling the numbers, 
shouted out, "Go in Tucker!" and any odd man was allowed to 
cut in on a temporarily unattached girl. 8 

In the New England village, a barn or shed was sometimes 
made over into a dance-hall where the young people from 
near-by farms met on Saturday nights. A description of one 
such hall relates that it was an unpainted one-story building 
with open sides a kerosene lamp swinging from the ceiling, a 
few American flags as decorations, and a large sign, "Please do 
not spit on the floor." Buckboards and buggies were hitched to 
the horse-rails while the dance was on. 9 

There was a prejudice against playing the fiddle or other in- 
strumental music in some rural communities that still did not 
go so far as to disapprove dancing. This did not greatly matter: 
the young people sang the dance tunes, and the party went on 
no less gaily. "Weevily Wheat" was one of the favorite singing 

Oh, Charley, he's a fine young man, 

Oh, Charley, he's a dandy; 

Charley is a fine young man, 

For he buys the girls some candy. 

Another even more gay and lilting air was "Buffalo Gals," sung 
with many local variations: 


Oh, Buffalo gals, ain't you comin* out tonight, 

Ain't you comin* out to-night, ain't you comin' out to-night; 

Oh, Buffalo gals, ain't you comin* out to-night, 

To dance by the light of the moon? 

Reminiscing of life in rural Indiana about 1880, Chase S. 
Osborn described such dances in a letter incorporated by Mark 
Sullivan in Our Times. "The violin (fiddle) was taboo, but we 
sang songs and danced to them and hugged the girls until they 
would often grunt as we swung them clean off the floor or 
ground, in the barn or house or on the green: 

Higher up the cherry trees the sweeter grows the cherry, 

The more ye hug and kiss the gals the sooner they will marry. 

And 'Billy Boy' 'She's a young thing and cannot leave her 
mother!' It was the time of Captain Jinks of the Horse Marines, 
and Down in a Coal Mine*. . . . And * Hound and 'Round the 
Mulberry Bush/" 10 

In the more thickly settled and prosperous areas the sim- 
plicity of these evening entertainments and country dances was 
already a thing of the past by the end of the century. Here 
recreation on the farm followed more nearly that of the town, 
and might be closely associated with it. But for a great part of 
the Middle West those twin phenomena, lack of opportunity and 
narrow religious views, had the restraining influence so often 
observed in earlier days. They upheld a prejudice against any 
departures from old customs which was intensified for the older 
generation by what they heard of urban amusements. 

More exciting and colorful than the school-house socials was 
the annual Grange picnic. It did not bring together only friends 
and neighbors. From a radius of perhaps a hundred miles, as in 
earlier pioneer days, the farmers and their families gathered at 
the grove that had been selected for the meeting. A few of the 
more prosperous might drive in spring-board buggies, but farm 
wagons were far more common. Two families would double up, 
making a "bowery wagon" out of their wagon-box by means of 


a few planks, and hitch up four-horse or six-horse teams. Mem- 
bers of the different lodges formed in line as they drew near 
the grove, carrying gay banners on which the women had 
emblazoned the lodge mottoes. "Some of the columns had bands/' 
reads a contemporary description, "and came preceded by far 
faint streams of music, with marshals in red sashes galloping to 
and fro in fine assumption of military command." " 

There were invariably speeches. If the picnic was held on the 
Fourth of July, the fervid political oratory that the West loved 
so much might hold the audience of farmers and their wives for 
hours. Basket lunches of cold fried chicken a Grange picnic 
involved wholesale slaughter in the hen-roosts of the community 
were next on the program. The band played, the men talked 
politics, and the women gossiped. There were often sports in the 
afternoon, and this was the nearest approach to the old rural 
pastimes of colonial days: races of all kinds, wrestling matches, 
and that most popular of rural diversions, pitching horseshoes. 
There was usually a baseball game. Nothing more picturesque, 
more delightful, more helpful," Hamlin Garland has recalled, 
"has ever arisen out of American rural life. Each of these 
assemblies was a most grateful relief from the sordid loneliness 
of the f arm /' 12 

Sometimes the Fourth of July was celebrated by a gathering 
in the nearest town however distant it might be. On July 1, 
18&0, the local paper of one small Illinois town printed its entire 
issue in red ink to draw the farmers* attention to the attractions 
it was planning for the Fourth. In response to such a glowing 
appeal, they came into town in greater numbers than on any 
previous holiday. A parade headed by a military band started 
the festivities, and this was followed by the usual patriotic ad- 
dress and an afternoon of sports. The townspeople had set up 
refreshment stands where the farmers supplemented their basket 
lunches. In the evening the firemen gave a ball at the city hall. 13 

The Fourth was always a tremendous day for men and women 
who day after day, week after week, seldom saw even their 


nearest neighbors. If they went to town, its life and movement, 
however small the place might actually be, held them enthralled. 
The games and sports were incidental. The crowd, the incessant 
activity of a large number of people, provided the real fun of 
the day at every Grange picnic or holiday celebration. 

THE ANNUAL state or county fair had its reason for being in the 
familiar exhibits of cows and pigs and chickens; pumpkins, corn, 
and tomatoes; jellies, pies, and fancywork. Farmers and their 
wives competed eagerly for the prized blue ribbons. But as time 
went on, the side-shows gradually overshadowed the main tent. 
"The people,'* sighed Josh Billings, banker fur pure agrikultural 
hosstrots/- 14 

From colonial days America had enjoyed market fairs, and 
whether in New England or in the South, horse-races, prize 
contests, and the exhibitions of traveling showmen had been one 
of their distinctive features. When Elkanah Watson introduced 
the modern country fair early in the nineteenth century, he 
intended something quite different. The Berkshire Agricultural 
Society was concerned with crop rotation, use of fertilizer, care- 
ful seed selection, and intelligent animal-breeding. Its annual 
meetings were to teach a lesson the farmers could understand. 
The experiment was successful and quicldy copied. In the period 
immediately following the Civil War there were over twelve 
hundred state, district, county,- and township agricultural so- 
cieties, and the greater number of them held annual fairs with 
an attendance from a few hundred to as many as ten thousand 
farmers. 15 

From the very first, plowing contests and speed trials had been 
necessary to show the advantages of careful breeding, and it was 
not long before the horse-race and the trotting match assumed 
an importance not entirely warranted on scientific grounds. 
Heavy milk-producers, mammoth sows, and prize pumpkins 
drew their crowds, but special stands had to be built at the track 


to hold the throngs that flocked to the harness races. We have 
seen what was happening in mid-century when even onetime 
Puritan New England produced crowds of thirty thousand for 
the trotting matches of the Boston Agricultural Club. After the 
Civil War the thousand-odd agricultural societies all had their 
races. A very reasonable economic motive furthered this devel- 
opment: the trotting matches drew so many people that they 
virtually supported the whole fair. Large purses consequently 
were put up to draw horses from all over the country and 
thereby attract still greater crowds. The fastest trotters, and a 
new professional class of drivers, made the rounds every fall. 
In the 1870*s Goldsmith and American Maid were the bright 
stars of the Grand Trotting Circuit, and a few years later the 
famous Maud S lowered the mile record to 2:08 minutes. Adop- 
tion of the bicycle sulky and improvements in the tracks soon 
afterwards made the two-minute mile an almost everyday oc- 
currence. 16 

Other commercial amusements now appeared. At first they 
were not officially permitted, but traveling showmen naturally 
took advantage of the crowds attracted by the fair. <f On the 
outside of the grounds," stated the report of an Ohio fair in 1858, 
"there were any number of outside shows; learned pigs, fat 
women, snakes, monkeys, all jumbling together in Biblical con- 
fusion, while lager beer saloons and melon stands supplied those 
in quest of such delicacies/* 17 It became obvious that if these 
amusements were to become associated with the fair, they might 
as well be within the grounds as without them, making their 
contribution to the running expenses of the often hard-pressed 

"The same horse trots, ball-games, bicycle races, livestock ex- 
hibits, and trials of draught horses," a contemporary wrote of 
a New England fair in the 1890's, "the same side-shows, fakirs, 
freaks and uproarious fun that always go on such occasions." 1S 
Prizes were given for female equestrianism as well as for hooked 
rugs and samplers, for velocipedestrianism as well as for supe- 


rior Guernseys. In 1888 a Rhode Island fair advertised "a grand 
tournament of bicyclers, a balloon ascension . . . polo games, 
steeple chasing, football match, and racing by wheelbarrows, 
greased poles, sacks and horses." 19 

On the day of the fair the town would be crowded, the grounds 
densely packed with medicine shows and itinerant peddlers 
adding to the confusion and excitement. Hamlin Garland has 
described the tremendous impression made upon him as .a small 
boy by one of these fakirs. He was a tall, lean man with long 
black hair, wearing a large white hat, and had as his assistants 
a little fat man and a sad-eyed girl with a guitar. Dr. Lightner's 
spiel on his magic oil entranced the boy, but the girl was romance 
incarnate. As they sang 

O Mary had a little lamb, 
Its fleece was black as jet, 

"her voice, a childish soprano, mingled with the robust baritone 
of the doctor and the shouting tenor of the fat man, like a thread 
of silver in a skein of brass." 20 

After the Chicago World's Fair one exhibition could be 
counted upon as certainly as a prize sow or a trotting race. "The 
lady on my right, who I now interduce," the barker might be 
heard announcing at every fair throughout the country, "is the 
world-famed Little Egypt." At other tents on hundreds of mid- 
ways were dancing-girls, lady boxers, baby shows, and graphic 
reproductions of the Streets of Cairo a camel, a donkey, and a 
few ragged Chicago Arabs. 21 There were always freak exhibitions 
the three-legged calf and two-headed chicken; candy booths 
and soft-drink stalls; shooting-galleries and meny-go-rounds. 
Where the fair was not big enough to support professional 
trotting races, farmers drove or rode their own horses. A popular 
feature was the boys* race a mad, helter-skelter run on ponies 
or plow-horses. 

Again the fanners would bring their basket lunches of cold 
chicken and stay the entire day, not spending very much but 


seeing everything. And again what they enjoyed most were 
the crowds which gave them a fleeting taste of town life. 

WE LEFT the circus in the 1850's with Barnum touring the coun- 
try with his Grand Colossal Museum and Menagerie. It had 
greatly expanded since those days; it reached its highest peak in 
the last quarter of the century. At least forty large shows were 
on tour, and many more smaller ones. They played cities, towns, 
and hamlets, pitching the big top wherever they could hope to 
draw a crowd. Popular everywhere, the circus meant for the 
farmer the one taste of theatrical entertainment that he might 
ever have a chance to enjoy. The circus had a glamour about 
it which nothing else in rural life could equal. 

Barnum's name was still one to conjure with in the circus 
world. Historians point out; that it was really William C. Coup 
who was the prime mover in establishing the Greatest Show on 
Earth and that James A. Bailey was the real circus king of the 
1890's. 22 But it was Barnum's reputation that packed the main 
tent Joining forces with Coup in 1871, he had brought together, 
with an immense fanfare of ballyhoo, the largest collection of 
wild animals, curiosities, acrobats, equestrian performers, and 
clowns ever assembled. There were giraffes from Africa and can- 
nibals from the Fiji Islands; Admiral Dot (successor to General 
Tom Thumb) and Esau the Bearded Boy; more elephants than 
ever before; and, wonder of wonders, a hippopotamus '^blood- 
sweating Behemoth of Holy Writ.* The big top was the largest 
tent area the world had ever known; it covered two rings, and 
then three rings. The entire company, animals and all, toured 
by rail in sixty-one special cars. 23 

With its accommodations for ten thousand and then twenty 
thousand people, this circus naturally played only the larger 
towns. But the farmers somehow got there. The railroads ran 
special half-rate excursion trains, and they camped out on the 
circus grounds. It was more than the event of a year; it seemed 


Proof before letters of a lithograph by Currier and Ives after a drawing by 
Louis Maurer, 1866. Courtesy of Harry T. Peters, 


the event of a lifetime. Each season this popular show (it was 
already firing a man from the mouth of a cannon as one of its 
great attractions) took in anywhere from one to two million dol- 
lars in gross receipts. 24 

When his circus was almost totally destroyed by fire in 1880, 
Barnum made another merger. Barnum and Bailey's was born 
a still bigger and better Greatest Show on Earth. The fire from 
whose ashes he had, Phoenix-like, arisen in still greater splendor, 
the irrepressible showman announced, had only served to illu- 
minate his path of duly as the American people's champion 
amusement provider. Nor had he forgotten his earlier technique. 
Barnum still lectured on temperance; he still took care to enlist 
church support. He was not in this circus business merely to 
make money, he told the country. It was his mission to "provide 
dean, moral and healthful recreation for the public." 25 

A sensation almost comparable to those he had achieved in 
mid-century with his famous mermaid, General Tom Thumb, 
and Jenny Land awaited him. His purchase of Jumbo, the 
world's largest elephant, from the Royal Zoological Gardens in 
London created an international furor in 1882 which brought 
the Greatest Show on Earth an avalanche of publicity. English- 
men were incensed. They were afraid that the loss of Jumbo 
would be followed by that of Shakespeare's grave or the Tower 
of London. All possible means were exhausted to prevent the 
famous pachyderm's departure. Barnum was adamant. Whatever 
the difficulty or expense, Jumbo was to be brought to America. 

On the fateful day set for his removal, the elephant lay down 
in the middle of a London street. All England cheered. Barnum's 
agent cabled frantically for instructions. "Let him lie there a 
week if he wants to," came the quick answer. "It's the best ad- 
vertisement in the world." When he finally reached this country, 
Jumbo led a torch-light parade for the opening of the circus at 
Madison Square Garden, cheered by half a million people. 26 
Little wonder that villagers and farmers would travel miles to 
see him whenever they had an opportunity. 


Barnum and Bailey's had many rivals. The Ringling brothers 
had developed their Classic and Comic Concert Company into 
one of the world's great circuses; and the Sells Brothers 
Circus and Menagerie, merging with Had] Tahara's Wild Moor- 
ish Caravan, boasted four rings and fifty-one animal cages. Then 
there were Forepaugh'sr Circus and Menagerie, Van Amburgh's, 
the Irwin Brothers, Whitney's, Williams'. . , . 2T 

The smaller road shows copied these larger circuses in every 
particular, their grandiloquent advertisements making equally 
fantastic claims. Miles Orton's New York and New Orleans Cir- 
cus, Menagerie and Wild West Show toured through Illinois 
maldng one-night stands, admission twenty-five cents. With fifty 
star performers and the marvelous racing elephant Lizzie, its 
posters shouted from a hundred barns that it was the greatest 
circus of all time. 28 In Nevada, Montgomery Queen's Caravan, 
Circus and Menagerie advertised its "grand centralization of 
genius, concentration of merit, monopoly of equestrian stars, 
avalanche of attractions.** 29 

In rural areas and small towns the program for circus day fol- 
lowed time-honored custom, 30 While the small boys were out at 
dawn to herald its arrival, watching the elephants cautiously test 
the bridges wherever the approaching road crossed a stream, the 
fanners gathered from all directions. Every kind of vehicle would 
be drafted into use. There were great farm wagons, drawn per- 
haps by a pair of powerful Clydesdales, the grown-up members 
of the family sitting stiffly in their best Sunday clothes and the 
excited children sprawled in the straw behind them; buckboards 
and carry-alls; phaetons and mule teams. Occasionally the son 
of some rich farmer might whirl by in a side-bar buggy, his 
best girl beside him, scattering clouds of dust over the plodding 
wagons. Even before the morning parade officially opened the 
day's festivities, the town's quiet streets would be a whirl of 
excitement. Strolling mountebanks, candy and popcorn sellers, 
vendors of palm-leaf fans and toy balloons, three-card monte men 
and sly practitioners of the shell game. Everywhere rang out the 


shrill cry of the vendors of pink lemonade "Lemo! Lemo! Ice- 
cole lemo! Five cents, a nickel, a half-a-dime, the twentieth- 
potofadollah! Lemo! Ice-cole lemor 

The parade would burst upon these excited crowds with a 
blast of trumpets which rattled all the windows on Main Street. 
The band sweated and puffed at their instruments as they rode 
proudly by in the great circus wagon, with its twenty- or even 
forty-horse hitch; chariots driven by helmeted Romans rumbled 
along behind wagon cages between whose bars could be seen 
chattering monkeys, restless tigers; the equestrienne performers, 
dazzling visions of grace and loveliness, haughtily sat their 
plumed and prancing steeds; the elephants swung ponderously 
by with swaying howdahs; and the clown made his uproarious 
progress through the crowd in a flashing donkey cart. Above the 
crack of whips and rumble of wheels floated the steam calliope's 
shrill rendition of the popular circus songs: 31 

My love has joined the circus, 

And I don't know what to do, 

She feeds the elephants crackers and cheese, 

And she plays with the kangaroo. 

or the rollicking tune of Van Amburg: 

He sticks his head in the lion's mouth, 

And holds it there awhile, 

And when he takes it out again 

He greets you with a smile. 

Even more familiar to later generations was another popular song 
to which the circus gave a nation-wide currency: 

He flew through the air with the greatest of ease, 
The daring young man on the flying trapeze; 
His movements so graceful, all girls he could please 
And my love he purloined away. 

A midsummer sun might beat down relentlessly on all this tin- 
seled display. The dust might swirl in great clouds about the 


ponderous elephants and rumbling chariots. But none could 
resist the excited cry, The drew is coming! 

After basket lunches, the crowd flowed to the flagged and 
tented circus lot, and soon the familiar call, "Right this way to 
the big show!" was packing them in close rows on the wooden 
benches which rose around the sides of the tent The bands 
blared forth the signal for the grand opening march, Here it all 
was-the ring-master cracking his whip, the cry of the popcorn 
vendors, the white-faced clowns, the dizzying swings on the 
flying trapeze, the living statues, the pervasive smeU of saw- 
dust. . , , 

Even after the equestrians had given their last exhibition of 
trick riding, the tumblers and tight-rope dancers performed their 
final stunts, the day was not quite over for those whose en- 
durance could stand further excitement. There were still the 
freaks and wild animals, and the raucous voice of the announcer 
declared that the minstrel show, all the songs and dances of the 
big city, was just about to start. As the tired holiday-makers 
finally jogged homewards in the gathering dusk, the children 
asleep on the straw-covered floor, it is not surprising that they 
often felt they had had entertainment enough to last them 
for many months. 

"Each year one came along from the east," Hamlin Garland 
has written in vivid portrayal of what the circus meant not only 
for the small boy but for the entire family on the western prairie, 
"trailing clouds of glorified dust and filling our minds with the 
color of romance. ... It brought to our ears the latest band pieces 
and taught us the popular songs. It furnished us with jokes. It re- 
lieved our dullness. It gave us something to talk about" 32 



A almost unnoticed in a world absorbed in affairs of more im- 
mediate importance: Two young men who had been following 
the path pointed out by Edison's invention of the kinetoscope 
succeeded in throwing moving pictures on a screen at a public 
performance at the Cotton States Exposition in Atlanta. This 
country's first motor-vehicle race was held at Chicago on Thanks- 
giving Day, two of the six entries (gasoline-driven) actually 
completing the fifty-two-mile course in a little over ten and one- 
half hours. And, on the other side of the Atlantic, Guglielmo 
Marconi publicly demonstrated (although the continuing skep- 
ticism of the Italian Government sent him the next year to Eng- 
land) the practicality of wireless telegraphy. 1 

The generation of the 1890's could not possibly realize the 
significance of these milestones in the progress of human inven- 
tion. But here were dimly foreshadowed developments which 
were to have the broadest social consequences and affect recrea- 
tion in this country more profoundly than anything that had 
ever happened before. There was to be a great expansion in 
sports and other diversions in the twentieth century, but within 
a strikingly short time from these inconspicuous events of 1895, 
moving pictures, the pleasure use of automobiles, and the radio 
were to become by every criterion the principal amusements of 
the great majority of American people. 

Their popularity was a result of the changing social and eco- 
nomic scene. A century earlier it would not have been possible. 
The increased leisure and generally higher standard of living 



of the laboring masses in the first instance made possible the 
r61e of these diversions in modern life, but equally important 
was the new attitude toward amusement which was itself born 
of this economic progress. By the opening of the twentieth cen- 
tury, recreation had become fully accepted in this country as a 
natural right of people of whatever social status. The concept of 
democracy coalesced with the profitable economy of mass pro- 
duction to flood the land with moving pictures, automobiles, 
and radios. It was not by accident that in no other country of 
the world did any comparable diffusion of these new means of 
amusement take place among the masses of the people. 

It was symbolic of the new industrial era that the machine 
should at last be harnessed to the amusements of an age which it 
dominated so completely in every other way. Its more general 
effect during the nineteenth century had been at one and the 
same time to intensify the people's need for recreation and to 
deprive them of many of their traditional diversions. It had 
crowded them into close-packed manufacturing towns and cities 
where they had little opportunity for play. The machine was 
gradually increasing leisure time but failing to provide the means 
to enjoy it. Now the movies supplied the equivalent of the thea- 
tre for every one, no matter how poor; the automobile opened up 
entirely new recreational possibilities, transforming the whole 
social scene; and the radio brought entertainment directly into 
the homes of millions of families the length and breadth of the 

THE FIRST moving pictures were the peep-shows which flourished 
during the 1890's in the phonograph parlors, billiard-rooms, and 
penny arcades of the cities. One put a nickel in the slot of one 
of the new-fangled contraptions Mr. Edison had invented, looked 
eagerly through the peep-hole, and saw the magic of tiny figures 
actually moving against a dim and blurred background. It might 
be a man sneezing, a girl dancing, or a baby taking its bath. 


It was a brief entertainment, but its novelty brought a steady 
stream of nickels to the pockets of enterprising showmen. 2 

When the experiments of several inventors (having produced 
the kinetoscope, Edison largely lost interest in what he regarded 
as a rather childish toy) succeeded in transferring these moving 
pictures to a screen where a large number of people could see 
them at the same time, they were taken up by the variety houses. 
In New York, Koster and BiaTs Music Hall gave the first Broad- 
way exhibition of what was now called the 'Vitascope" on April 
23, 1896, 3 and soon vaudeville houses everywhere were showing 
"living pictures'* as a star feature on their programs. But these 
jerky, flickering screen productions had litde more than their 
novelty to commend them to audiences at the better-class vaude- 
ville theatres. They could not offer effective competition to 
acrobatic dances and popular song hits, and only the cheaper 
variety houses thought it worth while to keep on showing them. 
The development of the vitascope was largely left to the proprie- 
tors of the penny arcades. They set up their machines in tiny 
darkened back rooms ("pick-pockets could go through you as 
easy as an eel through water") and drew in the masses of city 
workers, often immigrants, who could not afford any better 
entertainment. 4 

It was not until about 1905 that an important forward step was 
taken in the presentation of moving pictures. A few years earlier 
an Electric Theatre had been established in Los Angeles solely 
for their exhibition, but it was the Nickelodeon that John P. 
Harris opened in McKeesport, Pennsylvania, just a decade after 
movies had first been shown that started their real boom. 6 There 
were perhaps a few hundred little arcade theatres scattered 
throughout the country in 1905, but the nickelodeons soon num- 
bered as many thousands. Three hundred had opened within 
the year in New York alone, a writer on the "Nickel Madness* 
stated in Harpers Weekly in 1907. Two hundred thousand peo- 
plemen, women, and children were flocking daily 'through the 
gaudy, blatant entrances.** 6 


Tn almost every case," reads a contemporary description of 
these theatres, "a long, narrow room, formerly used for more 
legitimate purposes, has been made over into what is popularly 
known as a 'nickelodeon/ At the rear a stage is raised. Across it 
is swung a white curtain. Before the curtain is placed a piano, 
which does service for an orchestra. Packed into the room as 
closely as they can be placed are chairs for the spectators, who 
number from one hundred to four hundred and fifty. Directly 
above the entrance is placed the moving picture machine, which 
flashes its lights and shadows upon the white curtain dropped 
in front of the stage. Many of the machines are operated by 
means of a tank filled with gasoline or some similarly inflamma- 
ble material. 7 ' 7 

The same story was being repeated not only in every other 
city in the country but in every town and hamlet. A vast public 
that had never attended the theatre, even the popular "ten, 
twent, thirt" melodrama, found in these brief twenty-minute 
shows entertainment which had never before been within its 
reach. 8 

The moving picture inevitably had caustic critics. The nickel- 
odeons were called silly and time-wasting, if not actually per- 
nicious. Anthony Comstock found in the darkened theatres 
intimations of immorality which sent anticipatory shivers up his 
puritanic spine. Censorship was threatened from the day when 
social reformers in Atlantic City protested the ^ypogastric 
rhythm" of a peep-show depiction of Dolorita's Passion Dance. 
"The authorities request us not to show the Houchi Kouchi," the 
exhibitioner sadly wrote the producer, "so please cancel order 
for new Dolorita. . . ." * When May Irwin and John C. Rice 
indulged in the kinetoscope's first kiss, an osculation so sensa- 
tional that it caused nation-wide excitement, the editor of a 
small Chicago magazine, The Chap Book, was especially dis- 
approving. Tn a recent play called The Widow Jones," he wrote, 
"you may remember a famous kiss, which Miss May Irwin 
bestowed on a certain John C. Rice, and vice versa. Neither par- 


ticipant is physically attractive, and the spectacle of their pro- 
longed pasturing on each other's lips was hard to bear. When 
only life size it was pronounced beastly. But that was nothing 
to the present sight Magnified to Gargantuan proportions and 
repeated three times over it is absolutely disgusting. . . . Such 
things call for police interference. Our cities from time to time 
have spasms of morality, when they arrest people for displaying 
lithographs of ballet-girls; yet they permit, night after night, a 
performance which is definitely more degrading. The immorality 
of living pictures and bronze statues is nothing to this. The 
Irwin kiss is no more than a lyric of the Stock Yards." 10 

A decade later the Chicago Tribune attacked the nickelodeons: 
"There is no voice raised to defend the majority of five cent 
theatres, because they cannot be defended. They are hopelessly 
bad." 11 On Christmas Eve of 1908, Mayor McClellan of New 
York revoked five hundred and fifty licenses because of objec- 
tions by the city's pastors. He announced that future permits 
would be granted only on agreement not to operate on Sundays 
and not to show pictures tending "to degrade the morals of the 
community." 12 More generally, however, these show-places were 
treated with casual condescension, dismissed as "a harmless di- 
version of the poor" and "an innocent amusement and a rather 
wholesome delirium." 13 Even among the people in the new 
motion-picture industry, there were few who could foresee its 
expansion or recognize the importance it was so rapidly assum- 
ing in the lives of the multitude. 

Popular amusements had more generally evolved from diver- 
sions that were originally available only to the wealthy. The 
theatre in America had at first been primarily class entertain- 
ment, the democratic audiences in the large playhouses of the 
mid-nineteenth century, as we have seen, offering a marked 
contrast to the more exclusive theatre patronage of the colonial 
period. And from this gradually democratized theatre had de- 
veloped the even more popular minstrel shows, burlesque, and 
vaudeville. But the first appeal of moving pictures was to the 


masses rather than the classes. They were cheap and popular 
from the very beginning. The support which in time enabled 
them to raise their standard of entertainment came entirely 
from their nickel-paying customers. 

Their early development along such unashamedly popular 
lines was not by any means inevitable. It was in part due to 
the class of people who happened to take them over. The out- 
standing figures were Jewish garment-workers or fur-traders who 
bought up the penny arcades, and then the nickelodeons, to 
merchandise films as they would any other commodity. And their 
dependence on a mass market led to their continuing to place 
emphasis on quantity rather than quality. They were not trou- 
bled by an artistic conscience, not concerned with culture, in 
promoting this profitable business. But at the same time what 
might superficially be dismissed as merely shrewd commercial 
tactics represented an approach to the development of this new 
amusement which would not have been possible in any other 
country. It reflected a democratic concept of the general avail- 
ability of popular entertainment which was thoroughly Amer- 

In European countries, notably in France, where pioneer work 
in moving pictures was even more advanced than it was in the 
United States, developments followed a quite different course. 
There was nothing comparable to the nickelodeon madness of 
this country. Instead of appealing to a mass market, the movies 
essayed the r&le of sophisticated entertainment. Although foreign 
producers at first made far better films, their efforts to maintain 
artistic standards lost them the world-wide market that American 
producers eventually built up because their pictures had a uni- 
versal appeaL 14 American movies would never have become the 
outstanding popular entertainment they are to-day had foreign 
precedents been followed, while a limited market would also 
have prevented their attaining the technical perfection which 
has been Hollywood's real contribution to this world-wide 
amusement. Moving pictures became a leading feature of Amer- 

In the Days of 
the Kinetoscope 

A kinetoscope, phonograph, 
and graphophone arcade in 
San Francisco. Courtesy of 
the Museum of Modern Art 
Film Library. 

The Last Word in Picture Theatres 

Radio City Music Hall, New York, capacity 6,200, offering elaborate ballet 

and other stage presentations with feature films. Courtesy of Radio City 

Music Hall. 

Incunabula of the Movies 

Left, top to bottom: scene from Cripple 
Creek Barroom, an Edison film of 1898 
(Museum of Modern Art Film Library); 
a daring scene for the nickelodeons about 
1910 (Culver Service); William S. Hart in 
an early Western (Culver Service); Mary 
Pickford and Owen Moore in Caprice, 1913 
( Museum of Modern Art Film Library). 

Right, top to bottom: scene from a nickel- 
odeon gangster film (Culver Service); Mabel 
Normand and Mack Sennett in Barney Old- 
fieltfs Eace -for a Life, 1913 (Museum of 
Modem Art Film Library); Charlie Chaplin 
in Between Showers, 1915 (Culver Service); 
Pearl White in The Perils of Pauline, 1914 
(Museum of Modern Art Film Library). 


ican recreation because they represented the culmination of the 
democratizing influences in the field of urban entertainment 
which had been at work for over a century* 

THE FILMS shown in the nickelodeon era represented a striking 
advance over the flickering glimpses of dancing-girls first seen 
in the penny-arcade kinetoscopes. Practical difficulties were hard 
to surmount, and the demand for pictures often outstripped the 
ability of the producers to supply them, but there was steady 
progress. With the filming of longer pictures at the close of the 
century, incidents (man sneezing) had first been elaborated into 
themes (employer flirting with stenographer). Further stretch- 
ing out of the picture, to perhaps a thousand feet, then gave a 
universal popularity to endless variations on the chase motive. 
The cowboy hero began to track down the western bad man, 
the city sleuth to pursue bank-robbers and hold-up men. In the 
simplest form of the latter, the thief was chased through streets 
crowded with city traffic until the inevitable collision with the 
fat woman, who felled him with her umbrella and sat on him 
until the police arrived. The only rival of the chase in this early 
period was comic relief. The more subtle uses of a banana-peel, 
of a precariously balanced can of paint, of a small boy with a 
hose, were developed. The custard pie made its triumphant 

Prize-fights and religious pictures were also introduced, two 
outstanding events in motion-picture progress being the filming 
of the Corbett-Fitzsimmons fight and the Oberammergau Pas- 
sion Play, News and travel had a wide appeal. For Hale's Tours 
of the World the theatre was darkened, a whistle blew to an- 
nounce the start of the trip, the seats began to sway through an 
ingenious system of rockers and brakes, and on the screen were 
flashed scenes of some distant part of the world taken from the 
rear platform of a speeding train. 15 

In 1903 an entirely new departure was made with the filming 


of The Great Train Robbery. Here for the first time tibe moving 
picture attempted to tell a story, and the success of the experi- 
ment was so immediate that every producer turned to one-reel 
thrillers. 16 The old melodramas, especially those of the West, 
were taken over from the popular theatres. By 1908 one maga- 
zine writer reported that the magnates of the nickelodeon world 
were paying from $15 to $30 for a good plot "or even more" 
while these pioneer movie actors received "all the way from $15 
to $40 a week." 17 

In most of these films the modern movie-goer would still have 
felt something strangely lacking. There was no romance, no sex 
interest. It took time to adapt the formula of boy-meets-girl 
to the screen, but when the motion pictures had once discovered 
love, they clung to it. All its various themes were developed 
love as sentiment and love as biological instinct. If the latter 
aspect of the phenomenon was to await fuller exploitation in the 
1920's, romance had won a place for itself before the nickelodeon 
days were over. Among the pictures being shown in Chicago in 
1907 were CupitFs Barometer, A Seaside Flirtation, Beware, My 
Husband, The Unwritten Law, The Course of True Love, The 
Bigamist, and The Gaieties of Divorce. 18 

Culture was not entirely ignored in the popularity of humor, 
thrills, and love. Shakespeare appeared on the silver screen. The 
patrons of one theatre were advised that, without any change in 
the five-cents admission charge, they could see "the superb, soul 
stirring, heart rending tragedy, Romeo and Juliet . . . accom- 
panied with an intensely tragic lecture by Dr. Lamberger." 

There were performances of other plays borrowed from the 
repertory of the legitimate stage. "The actor has a formidable 
rival in the kinetoscope," the Theatre Magazine ominously de- 
clared. "The time is not far distant when we will see along Broad- 
way theatrical agencies specially catering to the manufacturers 
of moving-picture films. The Edison Company of New York, the 
Vitagraph Company of America, the Pathe Freres of Paris, each 
has its regular stock company. These men and women, employed 


at good salaries, are richly costumed for the dramas, and the 
ballets and fairy tales and the dances that are performed before 
the machine. It is remarkable to what extent the moving-picture 
manufacturer will go in his anxiety and determination to obtain 
realism in his kinetoscopic play/* 19 

For some time there were no stars. The best known of the early 
screen actresses, Florence Lawrence, was known only as "The 
Biograph Girl/' 2a Not until the closing years of the nickelodeon 
era did feature films and feature players emblazon their starry 
path across the cinematic skies. "Little Mary" films, first shown 
in 1909, pointed the way. They enshrined Miss Pickf ord as Amer- 
ica's sweetheart and fastened the star system upon moving pic- 
tures even more firmly than it had been fastened on the theatre. 
Every audience, Keokuk or New York, was convulsed by the 
antics of John Bunny; held its breath in fear and trembling as 
Broncho Billy or Tom Mix thundered across the western prairies; 
and became easy prey (at least its male components) to the 
charms of Norma Talmadge and the Gish sisters. 21 The nickelo- 
deons had become something far more than "flimsy amusement 
for the mob/' With ten thousand theatres playing to a nation- 
wide audience of ten million weekly, they were doing a greater 
volume of business by 1910 than all the legitimate theatres, 
variety halls, dime museums, lecture bureaus, concert-halls, cir- 
cuses, and street carnivals combined. 23 

BEFOBE the World War broke out, the movies had graduated 
from the nickelodeon era. Improvements in the technique of 
photography, transforming the flickering films of the early days 
into clear-cut, distinct pictures; the introduction of multireel 
films; the appearance of a host of new movie stars, and more 
comfortable, higher-priced theatres were together responsible 
for a new day in which the triumphs of Biograph, Essanay, and 
the Mutual Film Corporation were quickly dimmed. One of the 
new films pointing the way was a comedy Mack Sennett pro- 


duced in 1914 with Marie Dressier in the star r6Ie Tittle's 
Punctured Romance. With Miss Dressier played a newcomer to 
the movies, an odd little man with baggy pants, a queer waddling 
walk, and a mustache which was soon to make his face better 
known than that of any one else in the world. 23 Charlie Chaplin 
was an immediate success. Within two years, so rapidly were 
the movies now forging ahead, in no small part owing to his 
own inimitable appeal, he had accepted a fabulous offer of 
$670,000 for a year's work. 24 

Incidental to a circulation war among Chicago newspapers, 
the year 1914 also saw an epidemic of moving-picture serials 
which proved an almost greater drawing-card than anything else 
so far produced. A nation-wide public breathlessly followed 
weekly instalments, released both in the newspapers and on the 
screen, portraying the thrilling adventures of Dolly of the Dailies, 
Lucile Love, or the mysterious Florence Gray. The most famous 
of all the serials was The Perils of Pauline with Pearl White: 

Poor Pauline, I pity poor Pauline 

First they tie her to a tree 

Then they send her out to sea. . . , 25 

Still more important, marking as definite an advance in moving- 
picture production as had The Great Train Robbery, was D. W. 
Griffith's filming of The Birth of a Nation. This masterpiece of 
the screen (it was to earn in all more than $18,000,000) proved 
once and for all that American movies could provide entertain- 
ment which neither the fashionable nor the sophisticated need 
scorn. It was a great movie because it broke away from the limi- 
tations of the stage and utilized the improved motion-picture 
technique as had no previous film. Its distant scenes, switch- 
backs, fade-outs, and close-ups revealed what imagination and 
intelligent direction could really do with this new medium. The 
producers were able to give a first-run showing of their picture 
at a legitimate theatre, at legitimate-theatre prices. Here was a 
far departure from nickelodeon days. While the moving picture 


remained primarily entertainment for the urban masses, it now 
began to reach as well a more exacting public. 26 

The growth of more luxurious and higher-priced theatres, 
slowly driving out the nickelodeons, both reflected and furthered 
this development. It was again in 1914 that Roxy (Samuel L. 
Rothafel) took over managership of the Strand, on New York's 
Broadway, immediately setting a pace in showmanship with 
which theatres in other cities vainly tried to keep up. The day 
of large, elaborate, and expensively furnished moving-picture 
palaces, with pipe-organs and full orchestras replacing the jan- 
gling pianos of an earlier day, had arrived. Even neighborhood 
houses and small-town movies felt this stimulating influence. 
Comfortable surroundings and higher admission prices were 
found to pay. 

Only six years earlier, Roxy had been showing films in tibe un- 
used dance-hall above the saloon in Forest City, Pennsylvania, 
where he worked as a barkeep, but the Strand did not represent 
the end of the path he was following in raising the exhibition of 
movies to a fine art. A decade later another theatre, to be known 
as Roxy's, awed even New York with its gaudy magnificence. 
This Cathedral of Motion Pictures could seat six thousand 
people in its immense auditorium, and squads of uniformed 
ushers kept in order another two thousand waiting in the lobbies 
for seats. With its musical numbers and ballet-dancing, the show 
built about the feature picture almost rivaled grand opera. 27 

THE POST-WAK YEAKS f ound the movies scaling new heights with 
a reckless abandon which reflected the pervasive extravagance 
of that astounding era. Production costs sky-rocketfed. A million, 
two million, three million, four million dollars (The Birth of a 
Nation had cost $100,000) were spent on a single spectacle. 28 
The ballyhoo about the stars, drawing their ten and twenty 
thousand dollars a week (Mary Pickford had signed a million- 
dollar contract for two years' work as early as 1917 29 ), would 


have filled even P. T. Barnum with envy. And the public loved 
them all the more because they were such expensive luxuries. 
A society in which money played such an important r&le basked 
in their reflected glory. 

Hollywood had now become the great center of the movie in- 
dustry. Jesse Lasky had pointed the way when in 1911 he had 
. rented a barn, for $200 a week, to film The Squaw Man against 
a western background. 30 The advantages of California sunshine 
had soon become apparent, and the rising film magnates flocked 
to the Coast. Here the movie world worked and played, and a 
host of inspired press-agents described with intoxicating detail 
the fabulous life that centered about the studios. Movie maga- 
zines carried to every fan the fascinating, and sometimes lurid, 
details of Hollywood's loves, marriages, and divorces, The stars 
became the arbiters of fashions, the molders of popular folk- 
ways. Shopgirls and stenographers worshiped dutifully at the 
Hollywood shrine. Rudolph Valentino, the passionate sheik of 
millions of love-lorn maidens* dreams, died in 1926. The crowd 
that waited to see him lying in state at a New York funeral 
parlor stretched for eleven blocks. 31 

There were good films produced in these years, Mary Pickford 
was still America's sweetheart; Constance Talmadge and Lillian 
Gish remained favorites; Gloria Swanson worked havoc with her 
glamorous charm; Charlie Chaplin continued to lead the field 
as the screen's greatest actor bar none; Harold Lloyd was win- 
ning tremendous popularity for his comedy r61es; the muscular 
Douglas Fairbanks was a certain drawing-card. . . . The pictures 
of these stars could usually be counted on, and there were many 
othersentertainment which from every point of view marked a 
progressive advance in the standards of the motion-picture in- 
dustry. But for every Ben Hur, Covered Wagon, Thief of Bagdad, 
Gold Rush y Ten Commandments, Beau Geste, or Three Mus- 
keteers, scores of movies exploited the more blatant features of 
the post-war letdown in manners and morals. Their titles were 
expressive. In one small city there were being simultaneously 


shown during a single week, to quote the findings of the Lynds* 
survey in Middletown, four such alluring pictures as The Daring 
Years, Sinners in Silk, Women Who Give, and The Price She 
Paid. On another occasion the movie-goers of this same town 
could choose from among Rouged Lips, The Queen of Sin, and 
Name the Man A Story of Betrayed Womanhood. 

'"Brilliant men, beautiful jazz babies, champagne baths, mid- 
night revels, petting parties in the purple dawn,*' advertised the 
producer of Alimony, "all ending in one terrific, smashing climax 
that makes you gasp." The features of Flaming Youth were 
graphically described: "neckers, petters, white kisses, red kisses, 
pleasure-mad daughters, sensation-craving mothers, by an author 
who didn't dare sign his name; the truth, bold, naked, sensa- 
tional." 32 The cinematic bite was never as bad as its bark ( after 
all, The Admirable Crichton was billed as Male and Female), 
but it went deep enough to disturb the guardians of public 

This was particularly true in considering the possible effect 
upon children, who, according to the Payne Fund investigation, 
made up a third of the nation-wide movie audience. Reformers 
could not close their eyes to advertisements that invited the 
youth of the land to learn through the movies "what love really 
means, its exquisite torture, its overwhelming raptures. . . " Sur- 
veys which showed that the love theme led all others, followed 
closely by crime and sex; that the heroes of the films, if not 
"great lovers," were usually gangsters and criminals, led to 
serious agitation for official censorship that might be more effec- 
tive than such agencies as the National Board of Review. 33 

When threats from these quarters were added to a storm of 
disapproval aroused by the revelation of a number of scandals 
at Hollywood, the motion-picture industry in some trepidation 
summoned to the rescue Will H. Hays, a politician high in the 
councils of the Republican party. As czar of the Motion Picture 
Producers and Exhibitors of America, he issued his ultimatum: 
"We must have toward the mind of a child, toward that clean 


and virgin thing, that unmarked slate we must have toward that 
the same sense of responsibility, the same care about the im- 
pressions made upon it, that the best teacher or the best clergy- 
man, the most inspired teacher of youth would have." At the 
same time the public was assured that the movies were actually 
performing a tremendous service for art, education, and inter- 
national good-will. Despite a little temporary overemphasis on 
jazz babies and red-hot kisses, Mr. Hays declared that the in- 
dustry still held Service as its Supreme Purpose. 34 

The producers began to exercise some restraint in their pic- 
tures under these circumstances, but it did not go so far as to 
threaten the box-office appeal of their offerings. The clean-up 
campaign was successful in averting the threat of further censor- 
ship: only six states (Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kansas, Maryland, 
New York, and Virginia) took legislative action. It somewhat 
restored the prestige of the industry. Nevertheless sex dramas 
and ultrasophisticated comedies continued to be turned out in 
profusion, and there was still a marked emphasis on portrayals 
of the supposed fast life of high society. Even the news reel did 
not entirely escape post-war influences, with its inevitable pic- 
ture of bathing beauties in one-piece suits. 

There was no question that the public liked these pictures. 
Ever greater crowds nightly packed the country's twenty thou- 
sand picture houses, from Roxy's to the cheapest second-run 
village hall. 85 Men and women from every walk of life, but es- 
pecially those in the working class, found here the vicarious 
excitement, the thrills, the heart interest, that for a time enabled 
them to escape the troubles and disappointments of their own 
lives. The man working all day on the assembly-line in an auto- 
mobile factory, the tired homeworker leaving the children with 
a neighbor for her weekly night at the pictures, did not want 
their entertainment on any higher plane: 

Please don't uplift me when I go 
To see a moving picture show. 


< TThe movie is the art of the millions of American citizens/' an 
English writer in the Adelphi discovered, "who are picturesquely 
called Hicks the mighty stream of standardized humanity that 
flows through Main Street ____ The cinema is, through and 
through, a democratic art; the only one." Nor would this com- 
mentator have had it otherwise. The attempt to educate the 
public to higher standards of taste except through the movies* 
natural evolution in response to a gradually maturing public 
sentiment was pious humbug. Europe had failed to realize the 
possibilities of the moving picture and was hiding behind that 
"singularly putrescent hypocrisy that masquerades as 'artistic 
culture/ "** 

So THE MOTION PICTURE in the 1920's. But still further triumphs 
awaited this popular amusement which had so marvelously 
evolved from the vitascope of only three short decades earlier. 
In 1928 Warner Brothers released a new film Al Jolson in The 
Jazz Singer* 7 Science had brought together sight and sound: 
here was the talkie. There had been several prior talking pictures, 
but the great success of The Jazz Singer marked the turning- 
point. Within a year their conquest of the silent film was com- 
plete. Sound effects were hurriedly inserted in such films as could 
not be made over, vocal numbers were added when possible, and 
all-dialogue pictures produced as quickly as the necessary equip- 
ment could be obtained. As theatres throughout the country were 
wired for sound, the talkies whipped up popular appetite for the 
movies as never before. The industry's annual receipts rose be- 
tween 1927 and 1929 to the tremendous total of a billion dollars, 
and weekly attendance jumped to an estimated 110,000,000 the 
equivalent of four-fifths of the entire population going to a show 
once a week throughout the entire year. 

The depression brought about a drastic decline in these figures 
as forced economies curtailed all private spending. For a time 
theatre managers had to watch steadily dwindling audiences, and 


the industry was almost overwhelmed by its wildly extravagant 
superstructure of fabulous salaries and expensive production 
costs. In a frantic attempt to attract greater patronage, the bars 
were let down on the sex-drama type of picture, double features 
were inaugurated, and many houses resorted to bank nights and 
money games screeno, lucky numbers, and bingo. These enticing 
lures, combined with partial recovery from the depression, finally 
succeeded in reversing the downward trend in admissions. In 
1935 weekly attendance at the eighteen thousand theatres that 
had weathered the storm was estimated at 77,000,000, two years 
later it had risen to 88,000,000, and by the close of the decade it 
was again approaching the 100,000,000 mark. 38 

The revolution wrought by sound had given rise to a new gal- 
axy of stars and introduced new types of pictures. Many of the 
familiar figures of the movie world continued in the talkies then- 
success in silent films; a few staged remarkable come-backs after 
a period of eclipse while they adapted themselves to an un- 
familiar technique. Actors and actresses of the legitimate stage, 
who had often scorned the pantomime of the silent film, made 
their hopeful way to California in droves, and a good many of 
them remained. Singers and dancers, for whom the talkies rep- 
resented an entirely new opportunity, were suddenly in great 
demand. In a whirl of expanding energy, Hollywood exploited 
all the means at its disposal to reach the still broader market for 
popular entertainment now opening up. 

The diversity of pictures that sound made possible was the 
most characteristic feature of the movies in the 19SO's. They were 
filling the democratic r61e that the theatre itself had played a 
century earlier, and nightly programs often showed a startling 
resemblance to those of the popular playhouses of that earlier 
day. As well as straight theatre, the movies offered a modern 
equivalent for the equestrian melodramas, elaborate burlesques, 
and -variety shows which had once had such wide appeal. At first- 
run houses there might be seen in quick succession a classical 
play filmed with, all the artistry the producers now commanded, 


an extravagant girl-and-music show, a detective thriller, a blood- 
and-thunder western melodrama, a sophisticated comedy, and a 
slap-stick farce. A single show, again like those of mid-century, 
invariably included one of these main features; one or more 
specialities, which might well be a singing or dancing act (the 
news reel was an innovation for which the theatre had had no 
parallel); and a comedy short, which took the place of the nine- 
teenth-century afterpiece. 

The feature films derived from plays of the legitimate stage 
ranged from Camille to Petticoat Fever, from Pygmalion to 
Idiot's Delight. Historical romances were elaborately produced: 
Disraeli was a favorite picture one year, and in another Cimarron, 
a story of Oklahoma pioneering. Gone With the Wind was a sen- 
sation at the close of 1939. Well-known classics were adapted 
to the screen, with such notable successes as Captains Courageous 
and David Copperfield. New possibilities opened up with ani- 
mated cartoons. The "Silly Symphonies" had a great success, and 
one of the most popular pictures in 1937-38 was the cartoon 
fairy-tale (photographed in color) of Snow White and the Seven 

The reigning stars during the thirties also revealed how diverse 
moving-picture entertainment had become. Micky Mouse rivaled 
Greta Garbo, and the Dionne quintuplets competed with Clark 
Gable. Lawrence Tibbett and Zazu Pitts, Will Rogers and Jean 
Harlow, Adolphe Menjou and Shirley Temple, Bette Davis and 
James Cagney, Mickey Rooney and Vivien Leigh, each had an 
enthusiastic following. 

THE MOVIES' SUCCESS in reaching such a broad public had long 
since had a most far-reaching effect on other forms of entertain- 
ment. From nickelodeon days they had been gradually drawing 
off the patrons of the popular melodrama, the devotees of variety 
and burlesque. They now dominated more completely than ever 
the whole field of commercial amusement. The people's theatres 


were either closed or made over into movie palaces, variety shows 
were so reduced in number that the old two-a-day vaudeville 
circuit was completely disrupted, and the doors of the local 
opera houses (unless they too were wired for sound) were every- 
where boarded up. The triumph of the movies over the popular 
theatre was complete. 

The legitimate stage which was primarily centered in New 
Yorkthe theatre of classical drama, sophisticated comedy, prob- 
lem play, and also musical revue remained a vital force. It 
was perhaps more important in some ways than in the nineteenth 
century. If vaudeville had left it free or forced it to go its own 
way without considering entertainment that would appeal to 
the urban workers, it was now more than ever the arbiter of its 
own fashions. It could encourage playwrights Eugene O'Neill 
was the country's leading dramatist who really had something to 
say. It could present plays dealing with social problems, and 
musical comedy that deftly satirized the current scene. The 
1930*s saw a revival of stock companies, especially summer stock; 
other cities followed the lead of New York with its Theatre Guild 
and Group Theatre; the International Ladies Garment Workers' 
Union staged a musical skit which played on Broadway and 
toured the country; and the Federal Theatre Project became for 
a time an active force in the theatrical world. Under such stim- 
ulating influences there also sprang up a mushroom growth of 
community theatres with some five hundred thousand amateurs 
playing before an estimated annual audience of fifteen million. 89 

There were impressive signs here of a striking revival of pop- 
ular interest in a theatre which was both very much alive and 
socially conscious. But it was still true that the audience it 
reached, even when the stock companies and community theatres 
were taken into account, remained a relatively limited one. In 
numbers it could not in any way compare with the millions who 
were daily streaming past moving-picture box-offices in every 
city, town, and village in the land. 

Among other forms of amusement that felt the devastating 


effect of the movies' competition were the circus and the country 
fair. The farmer who could drive to town every week and see a 
motion picture no longer looked forward to circus and fair with 
the eager anticipation of the day when they represented his 
one taste of urban entertainment. He often stayed away al- 
together. The traveling carnival and the amusement park also 
found themselves overshadowed, while such simple small-town 
diversions as lodge night, the Grange meeting, and the church 
social, although by no means extinguished, could hardly match 
the new entertainment's strident appeal. The movies had become 
a national habit from which no element in the population was 
wholly free. Their effect on social life the home, family relation- 
ships, children was incalculable. 

The concern always felt over their influence was naturally 
heightened by these developments. Their emphasis on the ex- 
travagance and artificialities of high society, to say nothing of 
crime and sex, was believed in many quarters to be thoroughly 
unhealthy for the body politic. With the letdown in standards 
during the depression period, public opinion again began to de- 
mand some reform, and the protests of such organizations as the 
Legion of Decency finally convinced the moguls of Hollywood 
that they would have to put their house in order or have it done 
for them. Galvanized into action, the Hays organization under- 
took to cooperate with the reform agencies and established a 
Production Code which it was prepared to enforce throughout 
the industry. 

This code set up certain standards governing the portrayal 
of crime, love-making, exposure of the human body, and pro- 
fanity. There were to be no more scenes of seduction "the treat- 
ment of bedrooms must be governed by good taste." More spe- 
cifically, as revealed in the correspondence of the code's admin- 
istrator, film characters were not to kiss savagely, get too drunk, 
lie around in their underwear, or use such words as 'louse" and 
"floozy/* One producer was advised to delete "the business of 
spraying perfume behind the ears," and another was told to cut 


out a character's stepping on a cockroach, on the ground "that 
such action is always offensive to motion picture patrons." Robin 
Hood was not allowed in the film of that name to kick the sheriff 
in the stomach; in Dead End there was a ban upon "the action of 
Spit actually expectorating/' 40 

Some two per cent of the film output escaped this self-imposed 
censorship and was bootlegged on "the sex circuit," but other- 
wise there was a marked improvement after 1934. Too strict 
control, many critics protested. They found the movies so com- 
pletely at the mercy of every pressure group in the country that 
they did not dare call their soul their own. They were compelled 
to tone down every suggestion of reality. Professor Sawyer Falk 
caustically declared that he "would rather take a chance on 
sullying the great American public rather than stultifying it." 41 

ENTIRELY apart from questions of morals or good taste, the 
movies had always been geared to the lowest common denomi- 
nator of intelligence in the hope of reaching as broad a public as 
possible. With somewhere between six hundred and eight hun- 
dred films being produced annually, by far the greater number 
relied on the old time-worn formulas boy meets girl, the Cin- 
derella theme, romance set against an exotic background, the 
chase, and familiar comedy situations. Producers could not afford 
to echo the note of dissent with the social scene which was such 
a striking characteristic of the 1930's, or to deal realistically with 
any of the problems growing out of the New Deal. There were 
signs of a less conservative attitude (They Won't Forget, I Am 
a Fugitive pom a Chain Gang, and occasionally The March of 
Time) at the very close of the decade, but the movies in general 
steered a safe course. How far the films were being used as propa- 
ganda was another point sometimes raised. Charles and Mary 
Beard asked some pertinent questions in America in Midpassage 
as to the r6Ie the movies played in promoting war sentiment 
through their big navy and aviation films. 42 


Their influence on our civilization could not be ignored. But 
over against the fears of those who felt it wholly pernicious could 
be set increasing evidence that there were more "good" films than 
ever before. Many pictures told with real sensitivity and feeling 
stories well worth telling, depicted historical events with a valid- 
ity which carried conviction, or presented scenes of stirring 
beauty with musical accompaniments at which even the cultured 
could not cavil. The Beards themselves had no quarrel with The 
Story of Pasteur, The Life of Emile Zola, and The Good Earth. 

Admitting that the movies were entertainment not primarily 
a medium for culture, or education, or propaganda it was clear 
that the level of such entertainment could not rise very high if 
left wholly dependent upon the desires ( as interpreted by Holly- 
wood) of a movie-going public which included all elements 
among the American people. A natural consequence of the 
democracy of this nation-wide audience was a lag between pos- 
sible artistic and cultural standards and those which the public 
would support. But in considering the trend of their develop- 
ment, not only in comparison with the films being shown in the 
nickelodeon era but against the background of the popular en- 
tertainment of the nineteenth century they had so largely 
replaced, the movies at the close of the 1930's showed many en- 
couraging signs that they were beginning to realize their true 



A recreation is concerned, could hardly have afforded a more 
striking contrast to that of the movies. There were in all in this 
country some three hundred horseless carriages gasoline bug- 
gies, electrics, steam cars when moving pictures were first 
thrown on a screen in 1895. When John P. Harris opened his 
pioneer moving-picture theatre a decade later, there were almost 
eighty thousand. 1 But though the early period of automobiling 
coincided so exactly with the years of the nickelodeon madness, 
the automobile and the movies reached entirely different groups 
of people. 

The movies were for the masses, the automobile for the classes. 
The distinction could not have been more pronounced. The gen- 
eralization may be hazarded that none of that vast nickelodeon 
audience ever even hoped to own or drive a car, while very few 
of the little band of wealthy automobile owners would have 
condescended to go to the movies. The first decade of the century 
witnessed a remarkable expansion in these two new forms of 
amusement, but it was then impossible to foresee that higher 
standards of entertainment would soon draw all classes of society 
into the moving-picture theatres and that the reduced costs of 
operating an automobile would in time enable all the world to 
motor. It was not until after 1920 that the movies and motoring 
could be grouped together as popular forms of recreation in 
which no class barriers were recognized. 



THE BESTBicnoN of motoring to the wealthy in the early period 
of the automobile was not primarily due to the cost of the cars. 
Although current prices ran as high as $7,000, runabouts could 
be bought for under $500 and Ford touring-cars for $780 as early 
as 1911. 2 This was not cheap from the workingman's point of 
view, but what really made touring such an exclusive prerogative 
of the rich was the expense of upkeep and operation. The lowest 
estimate in a magazine series appearing in 1907 was $358 for a 
six-months' season in which the car-owner drove 3,370 miles. 
New tires cost $100, minor parts $96, new parts and work on the 
engine $70, and gasoline $45. A more typical estimate for an 
expensive car set the total for a year's operating expenses at 
$3,628. A number of extras were included in this figure: a cape 
top and glass front, a speedometer, an exhaust-blown horn, and 
an allowance ($264) for motoring clothes. 3 Nevertheless it graph- 
ically reflected the continual drain for repairs and new tires 
which featured all pre-war motoring. The year's upkeep of a car 
appears generally to have come very close in these days to its 
original cost. 

The new "automobility" came in for its full share of jokes and 
jibes, and also bitter denunciation, as the common man watched 
the newly rich ride proudly through the gates of society in their 
Cadillacs, Locomobiles, Packards, and Fierce-Arrows. Life paro 
died "The Charge of the Light Brigade" in 1904: 

Half a block, half a block, 

Half a block onward, 
All in their automobiles, 

Rode the Four Hundred. 
^Forward!' the owners shout, 

'Racing car!' 'Runabout!' 

Into Fifth Avenue 

Rode the Four Hundred. 4 

Some three years later, Woodrow Wilson, then president of 
Princeton University, gravely warned that "nothing has spread 
socialistic feeling in this country more than the use of tihe auto- 


mobile." He declared that to the worker and the farmer the 
motorist was "a picture of the arrogance of wealth, with all its 
independence and carelessness." 5 

An expensive amusement not only summed up the general 
opinion of the automobile in these pioneer years, but appeared 
to be all that could be expected of it. It was a plaything for the 
rich. Motoring and automobile racing took a place in the lives 
of wealthy sportsmen which had formerly been held by coaching; 
it was regarded as a sport comparable to yachting or riding to 
hounds. Operating expenses and the inevitability of breakdowns 
for long shut out any idea of the automobile's more general use- 
fulness, either as a means of transportation in the business and 
commercial world or as a popular recreation for the people as a 
whole. As late as 1911 Charles J. Glidden could single out as the 
primary effect of the advent of the automobile that it had "com- 
pletely revolutionized the life of well-to-do people." 6 

The sport of motoring was hazardous and exciting as well as 
costly in the first decade of the century. A long course of instruc- 
tion was necessary to learn how to drive, the schools providing 
preliminary practice in gear-shifting and steering behind dummy 
wheels before the pupil was allowed to venture on the road. He 
was also taught something about the engine, how to make the 
necessary repairs and replace parts. Many car-owners became 
adept at tinkering with the engine, but this phase of motoring 
was not always considered fun. 'The nerve strain of working over 
those jarring parts, if you have no mechanical instinct," wrote 
one harassed motorist, "would take away all the pleasure of 
ownership." 7 One of the most popular automobile jokes was that 
of the car-owner's ward in the insane asylum. A visitor one day 
was surprised to find it apparently empty. The physician in 
charge explained that the patients were all under the cots fixing 
the slats. 

Vast preparations had to be made for a day's run, let alone 
for the vacation tours which were becoming popular as the auto- 
mobile very gradually became a more reliable vehicle. Among 

New Toys for 
the Wealthy 

An advertisement 

in Collier's Weekhj, 


The Thomas 6 CyL, 70 H. P. 

The most Powerful, Complete and Luxurious Stock Car Made 

complete with glass front, top and speedometer. 

^FlE$ls E k THC ^Jf?I^^ " 

Cars and Costumes of Pre-War Days 

CiJver Service. 


the items of extra equipment necessary were a full set of tools, 
elaborate tire-changing apparatus, a pail of water for overheated 
brakes, extra spark-plugs, tire chains for muddy roads, and a 
"rear basket with concealed extra gasoline supply/* Clothes also 
were important. In this period the cars were all open, many of 
them without tops or even wind-shields, and the roads were in- 
credibly dusty. The motorist had to be prepared for all contin- 
gencies, laden down with dusters, raincoats, umbrellas, and 
goggles. A single-breasted duster with eton collar and three patch 
pockets was recommended for mild weather, but men were fur- 
ther advised to have wind cuffs to be attached to their coat 
sleeves, caps with visors and adjustable goggles, and leggings for 
repair work. 8 

For women the problem of the proper motoring clothes was 
even more important. One had to be fashionable, but everyday 
styles were hardly adapted to exposure to sun, wind, and dust. 
Bell-shaped ruffled skirts trailed the ground, and large picture 
hats were fastened upon imposing pompadours with a multitude 
of gleaming hat-pins. To motor, all this fine array had to be 
carefully protected. Long linen dusters were worn, lap-robes 
tucked securely about the legs, and hats tied down with long 
veils knotted tightly under the chin. 9 

In 1907 a hundred miles was considered an excellent day's run. 
There had to be a lot of "sprinting at thirty miles an hour" to get 
over such a long distance. The average speed was a good deal 
lower, but fast driving had already become a problem* 'The 
effect of speedy motoring," commented one automobilist, "is that 
of drinking several cups of strong coffee/* 10 and the pre-war 
generation appears to have had a strong urge to experience this 
intoxicating sensation. To control these maddened motorists, who 
frightened horses, upset carriages, and more and more frequently 
maimed and killed other users of the roads while they escaped 
uninjured, strict speeding regulations were adopted in a number 
of states. The law in New York provided a maximum of ten miles 
an hour in congested areas, fifteen miles an hour in the outlying 


sections of cities and towns, and twenty miles an hour in the open 
country. 11 

Driving at night was not a usual practice, but one enthusiast 
contributed a special article on midnight motoring to the October, 
1907, issue of Country Life. He painted a glowing picture the 
darkness pierced by the flaming arrow of the acetylene headlight, 
the road opening up like a titanic ribbon spun solely for the 
motorist's pleasure, the muffled roar of the motor in the deep 
silence of the night. It was a wonderful sensation as, with hands 
gripping the seats, hair blown back by the rushing wind, the car 
plunged "into that big mysterious dark always just ahead, always 
just beyond reach." One word of warning was given about night 
running. Should a carriage be encountered, the motorist should 
be ready to stop at once and attempt to calm the frightened 
horses by throwing his lap-robe (an essential article of equip- 
ment) over the headlights. 12 

Suggestions for driving advised care not only for the safety 
of the highway, but to combat the prejudice that the automobile 
still aroused among non-motorists. The horn should be used 
gingerly because a sudden squeeze was frightening to both horses 
and pedestrians; headlights should be blown out on city streets; 
persons having trouble with their horses should be treated cour- 
teously, "especially ladies who are apt to be rather helpless in 
such cases/' A final injunction urged special consideration for 
pedestrians. If they were forced to dodge a speeding car, they 
were very apt to describe it later, to the ill repute of all motoring, 
as "one of those (adjective) automobiles/' 13 

BY 1914 the motor car had passed well beyond this pioneer stage. 
There were some two million in the country, and mass produc- 
tion was enabling the manufacturer to turn out cars that could be 
purchased for as little as $400. More important, the automobile 
had been so greatly improved that constant breakdowns were no 
longer the invariable rule of the road, and it was possible to op- 


erate a car without the prohibitive expenses of earlier days. Roads 
also were becoming immeasurably better. An advertisement of 
one second-hand car gave as the reason for sale that its owner 
had motored from Illinois and could not return because of bad 
roads, but the constant pressure of motorists was beginning to 
take effect in improved highways, macadam and even concrete, 
throughout the country. 

Henry Ford had played a leading part in making the auto- 
mobile more easily available to a broader public. His Model T 
was the most familiar of all makes, with half a million of them on 
the road before the World War. Hundreds of "tin Lizzie" jokes 
showed the place they had won in the country's life. Do you 
know what Ford is doing now? was a question the wary learned 
to ignore. But the answers were legion: enclosing a can-opener 
with every car so the purchaser could cut out his own doors; 
painting his cars yellow so that dealers could hang them in 
bunches and retail them like bananas; providing squirrels to re- 
trieve any nuts that might rattle off Another story was that 

of the Illinois farmer who stripped the tin roof off his barn, sent 
it to the Ford factory, and received a letter saying that "while 
your car was an exceptionally bad wreck, we shall be able to 
complete repairs and return it by the first of the week." 14 

The ubiquity of the Ford, as well as of the Ford joke, clearly 
indicated that the automobile had completely passed through 
that stage when it could be considered a plaything for the rich 
or an instigator of socialism. It was reaching the American public 
the workingman and the farmer. And throughout the period 
of the World War this general process of diffusion went on at an 
increasingly rapid rate. The two million cars of 1914 had become 
nine million by 1921. In another five years this number had 
doubled. 15 So great was public interest in the automobile that 
when Ford brought out a new car in 1927, the formal unveiling 
of the Model A attracted almost as much attention as a presiden- 
tial inauguration. Thousands flocked to the Ford show-rooms in 
Detroit, the mounted police had to be called out in Cleveland, 


a mob stormed the exhibition at Kansas City, and a million 
people fought to get a glimpse of the new car at the Ford head- 
quarters in New York. 16 

Succeeding years saw a still further increase in the number 
of passenger cars on the road. In the 1930's the total rose to over 
twenty-five million an automobile for more than two-thirds of 
the families throughout the country. 17 Such far-reaching improve- 
ments had been made that there was now almost no resemblance 
to the horseless carriage of forty years earlier. The modern car 
was long and low, showing a definite trend toward stream-lining, 
and the closed sedan had almost entirely replaced the open 
touring-car. It could be operated easily and was as nearly fool- 
proof as human ingenuity could make it. It was equipped with 
such an array of conveniencesfrom self-starters to heatersthat 
one could motor with, a degree of comfort the pioneer automo- 
bilists could not possibly have imagined. Winter motoring cer- 
tainly for short trips was almost as feasible as summer outings. 
Should anything go wrong, the uniformity of popular models 
made repairs comparatively easy, but motorists could count so 
definitely on the dependability of their cars that they hardly 
knew what was under the hood. It was seldom necessary even 
to change tires, so greatly had their durability and potential 
mileage been increased. Everyone could drive a car, and every 
one did. In the 1890*s the tremendous vogue for the bicycle had 
given the impression that America was a nation on wheels. Half 
a century later this appeared to be even more true but on auto- 
mobile wheels. 

THE SOCIAL CHANGES wrought by the automobile had affected 
every phase of national life, Transportation was revolutionized, 
the isolation of the country broken down. No single development 
ever had a more far-reaching effect in speeding up the tempo of 
modern living. The entire face of the country was criss-crossed 
with highways of macadam and cement, lined with filling-sta- 


tions, lunch-rooms, curio stores, antique shops, hot-dog stands, 
tourist camps, and signboards. It was the age of the automobile. 

Nowhere were the changes more far-reaching than in popular 
recreation. At least one-quarter of the use of automobiles was 
estimated by the American Automobile Association to be for 
pleasure touring and holiday driving. Equally important was 
the extent to which it was used as an adjunct to pleasure, as a 
means of transportation from the country to the amusements of 
the city and from the city to the sports and outdoor activities of 
the country. For countless millions the automobile brought the 
near-by golf-course, tennis-courts, or bathing-beach within prac- 
tical reach. It opened up the way for holiday picnics in the coun- 
try and for week-end excursions to fish or hunt. It immensely 
stimulated the whole outdoor movement, making camping pos- 
sible for throngs of people to whom woods, mountains, and 
streams were formerly totally inaccessible. It provided a means 
of holiday travel for a people whose migratory instinct appeared 
insatiable, making touring one of the most popular of all amuse- 
ments. 18 

The delights of a week-end or Sunday motor excursion into 
the country were spread glowingly over the pages of popular 
magazines in the advertisements published by manufacturers of 
popular models. The automobile was "the enricher of life/' A mid- 
western bank president was quoted in one two-page spread in 
the Saturday Evening Post as declaring that "a man who works 
six days a week and spends the seventh on his own doorstep 
certainly will not pick up the extra dimes in the great thorough- 
fare of life." Another advertisement invited the car-owner to 
make the most of the next sunny Sunday "tell the family to 
hurry the packing and get aboard and be off with smiles down 
the nearest road free, loose, and happy bound for green won- 
derlands." 19 The suggestion which innumerable families took 
aroused the resentment of those religious elements in the popu- 
lation which believed church-going rather than motoring the way 
to spend the day, but the automobile finally completed the grad- 


ual transformation of the Sabbath from a day of rest and worship 
to one primarily devoted to recreation. 

The pleasures of vacation touring were depicted with even 
more fulsome praise of the joys of the open road. Every section 
of the country invited the growing army of motorists to visit it. 
Chambers of commerce, resort proprietors, and oil companies 
united in publicizing the attractions of seashore and mountain. 
New England was a summer vacation land, and Florida a pop- 
ular winter resort. The national parks and forests, especially 
those of the West, drew hordes of visitors. In 1910 they had a 
few hundred thousand; the total in 1935 was thirty-four million. 20 
Almost all of them came by automobile. There was an over- 
whelming response to the slogan See America First as the new 
generation took to the road. 

Accommodations to meet the needs of these motorists along 
the way sprang up quickly. The tourist camp became an insti- 
tution. Some of them provided comfortable overnight cabins with 
all modern conveniences; others simply provided facilities for 
automobile campers. Florida probably had more of them than 
any other state. In 1925 it reported 178 with accommodations 
for six hundred thousand people. 21 For the more fashionable 
there were hotels and innsthere was a rapid growth of them 
in these years but the majority of tourists had little money to 
spend. An overnight cabin or a place where they could stretch 
a tarpaulin from the side of the car, cooking their own supper 
at a communal fireplace, was all that most of them demanded. 

In the late 1930's the trailer made its appearance as still an- 
other boon for those with migratory instincts. The westerner 
whose forebears had crossed the prairies in a journey of several 
months trekked back over the old route, in a fraction of the 
time, with this twentieth-century equivalent of the covered 
wagon coupled to his car. The number of these vehicles 
increased rapidly; enthusiasts saw for them a future comparable 
to that of the automobile itself. In the bright dawn of trailer 
camping, about 1936, it was wildly stated that there would be 


a million of them on the road within a year and that a decade 
would see half the population on wheels. Such fantasies proved 
illusory; perhaps one hundred thousand passenger trailers, rather 
than a million, was the total later estimated by Trailer Travel. 22 

Some seven hundred manufacturers had rushed into the field. 
Small machine-shops, bicycle manufacturers, out-of-work car- 
penters, hoped they had discovered the bootstrap to pull them 
out of the depression. But the boom faded away as annual 
production sought levels corresponding to the real demand. For, 
apart from the expense, new obstacles to further expansion 
sprang up in strict traffic regulations and bans on trailer parking. 
Municipalities did not take kindly to the home-on-wheels which 
could escape taxes and defy housing rules. Nevertheless in a 
more limited field the trailer provided a new means of touring 
which had wide appeal, becoming throughout the country a 
familiar symbol of the life of the highway. Trailer camps were 
established at the grounds of New York's World Fair, at Florida 
winter resorts, in the national parks of the Far West. 

An important consequence of touring was the growth of a 
travel industry of immense proportions. In 1935 the American 
people were reported to have spent almost five per cent of their 
total income on vacation expenses. More than half this money, 
or about $1,330,000,000, represented automobile operating ex- 
penses that could be fairly allocated to the pleasure use of cars. 23 
Here was a sum greater than all moving-picture admissions, 
greater than the cost of any other form of recreation whatsoever. 
Add to it all the other expenses of motoring hotels, tourist 
camps, restaurants and some idea may be gained of the im- 
portance of the industry that catered to the motorists* needs. Half 
a century earlier there had been nothing comparable to automo- 
bile touring; it had now become an economic as well as social 
phenomenon of the utmost significance. 

Just what a car meant in the lives of countless working-class 
families, entirely apart from the vogue for touring among those 
more likely to have summer vacations, was graphically revealed 


in the comments made by women interviewed in the course of 
the Middletown survey. The car is the only pleasure we have/* 
one of them stated; another declared, 111 go without food be- 
fore 111 see us give up the car"; and a mother of nine children 
said she would "rather do without clothes than give up the car." 24 
An automobile was generally ranked higher than ownership of' 
one's home, before a telephone, electric lighting, or a bathtub. 
The experience of the depression widely confirmed the general 
willingness to sacrifice almost everything else in order to keep 
a car. Generally paid for on the instalment plan, it was the last 
thing to go. One of the steadiest products on the market was 
gasoline, bought by countless working-class families heroically 
economizing on food and clothes to be able to pay for their Sun- 
day spin into the country. 

In no other country in the world had motoring for pleasure 
developed on any such grandiose scale. Everywhere else the 
use of the automobile for recreation was largely limited, as it 
had been in the early days in this country, to the more wealthy 
classes. Only in the United States had a higher standard of 
living and mass production made possible such general owner- 
ship. A car for his family, to be used primarily for pleasure, 
was accepted as a valid ambition for every member of the Amer- 
ican democracy. 

THE EFFECT of the automobile on recreational habits was often 
decried in the 1930*s: the substitution of a passive amusement 
for something more active; standardization and regimentation; 
the moral problem of the parked sedan and roadside tourist 
camp. The Sunday-afternoon drive was devastatingry described 
the crowded highways, traffic jams, and accidents; the car win- 
dows tightly closed against spring breezes; and whatever beauties 
the landscape might offer lying hidden behind forbidding lines 
of advertisements. "One arrives after a motor journey," one 
eminent sociologist wrote, "all liver and no legs; one's mind is 


asleep, one's body tired; one is bored, irritable, and listless. 25 
But what such critics forgot was that the great majority of 
Sunday and holiday motorists, or even vacation tourists, would 
have been cooped up in crowded towns and cities except for the 
automobile. The country they saw may at times have been 
almost blotted out by billboards and the air they breathed 
tainted by gasoline fumes. But the alternative in many cases 
would have been the movie, the dance-hall, or the beer-parlor. 
The steamboat and the railroad began a century ago to open up 
the world of travel and provide some means of holiday escape 
from ojie's immediate environment, but until the coming of the 
automobile, recreation along these lines was a rare thing. The 
wealthy could make the fashionable tour in 1825, the well-to-do 
built up the summer resorts of the 1890 r s, but every Tom, Dick, 
and Harry toured the country in the 1930*s thanks to the auto- 

Much of the criticism of the way the automobile was used 
in leisure-time activities may have been justified, but any gen- 
eral condemnation of its part in national recreation implies that 
pleasure travel, outdoor life, and many sports should have largely 
remained the prerogative of the -wealthy few who could afford 
other means of transportation. 


in the United States. Their chief amusement was picking up 
on crude, home-made receiving sets the wireless-telephony mes- 
sages, principally from ships at sea, which symbolized the 
quarter-century advance in communications since Marconi's ex- 
periments in the 1890's, 1 Broadcasting grew out of this amateur 
activity. When experiments were made in putting news r~nd music 
on the air, the realization grew that this new medium had star- 
fling potentialities for entertainment. They had been foreseen 
some four years earlier by David Sarnoff, ambitiously planning a 
"Radio Music Box" for every home, but apart from a few limited 
demonstrations it was not until 1920 that broadcasting in its 
modern sense became an actuality. 

Among the experiments with music in that year, those of 
Lester Spangenberg, a former navy radio operator, have been 
credited with constituting the first regular broadcasting. Volun- 
teer pianists and banjo-players began to meet nightly at the 
Spangenberg home in Lakeview, New Jersey, and a program was 
sent out on which hundreds of other amateurs tuned in. 2 

A few months later, enthusiasts who lived near Pittsburgh 
were also surprised to hear music which was being broadcast- 
though the word was hardly known from a plant of the .West; 
inghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company. They liked it; 
a number of them wrote in suggesting a regular program. One 
was consequently put on the airbaseball scores and popular 
music every Wednesday and Saturday night and soon after- 
wards a Pittsburgh department store began advertising "ap- 



proved radio receiving sets for listening to Dr. Conrad's con- 
certs." The Westinghouse officials suddenly realized that they 
had inadvertently stumbled on something. Here was a way to 
increase sales of equipment to radio fans by providing enter- 
tainment, news reports, and educational features for those who 
enjoyed listening in. 3 

Arrangements were promptly made to establish the famous 
KDKA, the first permanent, commercial broadcasting station. It 
was formally opened on November 2, 1920, to broadcast to a few 
listeners ( some of whom were provided with free receiving sets ) 
the results of the Harding-Cox election. The success of the ex- 
periment led to further expansion of KDKA's activities, and 
within a year to the establishment of other pioneer stations. From 
that date the rapid expansion of broadcasting and growth of the 
great invisible audience constituted one of the most amazing 
phenomena of the post-war decade. When another presidential 
contest came around in 1924, the news of the election of Coolidge 

.< ...... . T ' 4W.J..-H*.! -J , O , 

was sent out over a nation-wide hook-up which reached five mil- 
lion homes. Hoover was elected in lj)2, and the number of 
receiving sets had swelled to ten million. They had almost tripled 
in the next eight years, and the great majority of the people 
throughout the country first learned of Roosevelt's second elec- 
tion over the air. 4 

WnH the rapid multiplication of broadcasting stations in those 
first years after 1920, the ether was soon crowded with music, 
stock-market reports, accounts of sporting events, and bedtime 
stories. In January, 1921, the rector of the Calvary Episcopal 
Church in Pittsburgh allowed the first broadcasting of a church 
service; a few months later HgtbjSXt, JJooyer made the first public 
address over the air in an appeal for funds, tp .support European 
relief work. 5 The Dempsey-Carpentier fight was broadcast. The 
New York Times printed an inconspicuous news item referring 
to it as an interesting experiment in wireless telephony, but a 


growing army of radio enthusiasts realized that something 

epochal was taking place. 

Before the end of 1922 there were hundreds of broadcasting 
stations, and a new entertainment industry (WJZ in Newark, 
New Jersey, was an imaginative pioneer in developing popular 
programs) was fully launched. 6 There is radio music in the air, 
every night, everywhere," wrote a startled newspaper editor in 
San Francisco. "Anybody can hear it at home on a receiving set, 
which any boy can put up in an hour." 7 Hundreds of thousands 
were making the same discovery and rushed to buy radios. Presi- 
dent Harding had one installed in his study at the White House. 
All the world wanted this new device annihilating space and 
bringing entertainment into the home with the twist of a dial. 
"The rapidity with which the thing has spread," one astounded 
observer commented, "has possibly not been equalled in all the 
centuries of human progress." 8 

There was a great deal more on the air than what might nor- 
mally fall under the head of entertainment, but radio made its 
spectacular advance because it was the most novel amusement 
the American people had ever known. Following the example 
of the electrical manufacturers who had first supported broad- 
casting as a means to increase radio sales, other manufacturers, 
department stores, and newspapers soon seized the opportunity 
to operate stations which would enable them to get their names 
before the public in a favorable light They were not always sure 
what to do, but at first it did not really matter. The novelty of 
any broadcast made it a success. Pioneer radio enthusiasts, listen- 
ing far into the night with head-phones clamped securely to their 
expectant ears ("^ar-muffs" were considered far superior to loud- 
speakers), were more interested in picking up distant stations 
than in the quality of near-by music. Involving experiments 
with new devices, the constant struggle against static, and all- 
night vigils, radio was originally an exciting sport rather than a 
passive amusement. It was highly competitive and sometimes 
quite exhausting. 9 

The First 



Station 2ZM, owned 
and operated by 
Lester Spangenberg 
at Lakeview, New 
Jersey, 1920. 

Broadcasting to the Nation 

The Master Control Room of the National Broadcasting Company at Radio 

City, New York, controlling Stations WEAF and WJZ and the scores of 

other stations in the Red and Blue Networks. Courtesy of the National 

Broadcasting Company. 


Programs covering the entire day from setting up exercises 
at 6:45^M. to jazz at midnight were inaugurated as early as 
1923^ by such stations as W|Z. Music predominated, soprano 
solos proving most popular, but there were also informing talks 
on every conceivable subject and ingenious radio dramas. A trial 
was made of what were called "omni-oraT productions at which 
the entire evening's program revolved around a single subject. "A 
Night Out of the Past" or "A Night in India" was presented with 
related music and talks. 10 

It was radio's awkward age. Critics concerned about its in- 
fluence in the transmission of ideas became gravely worried over 
what was happening. In October, 1924, a writer in the New 
Republic declared that jazz was the principal entertainment on 
th&jur, and ninety per cent of everything else was "sheer rub- 
bish." "The development of motion pictures in the United States," 
he stated, "was held back half a decade because at first it was 
in the control of fly-by-nights, adventurers and reformed pushcart 
peddlers, not one in a hundred of whom had reached the social 
level where one takes off one's hat indoors. Radio broadcasting 
seems threatened by the same fate." 11 As in the case of the 
movies, however, radio was destined for popular entertainment 
even if it meant jazz and rubbish. In attempting to satisfy public 
taste, commercial-minded though it may have been, the new 
industry was fulfilling its primary function in providing amuse- 
ment for the American people as a whole. 

Improvements in technique and organization went ahead 
faster in these years than the quality of entertainment. Nation- 
wide hook-ups were inaugurated in 1924 for the national political 
conventions. Radio's enthusiasts, listening to the exciting battle 
between Al Smith and .William, .Gilbfes McAdoo in Madison 
Square Garden (with the persistent Alabama cry "twenty-four 
votes for Oscar W. Underwood"), enjoyed more than ever the 
sport of politics. A few years later, chain broadcasting, linking 
stations overlhe entire country, enabled listeners everywhere to 
hear the same nightly programs. National advertisers, as opposed 


to local merchants and newspapers, sensed the potentialities of a 
medium reaching an audience which now numbered many mil- 
lions. A new era in broadcasting was ushered in with sponsored 
programs over the new networks, whereby leading manufacturers 
sought to associate in the mass mind the excellence of the enter- 
tainment they provided with the excellent qualities of their 
tooth pastes, automobiles, mattresses, ginger ales, watches, or 
cough drops. Performances became more elaborate, radio head- 
liners were developed, and still further impetus given to the 
contagious craze so rapidly engulfing a great majority of Ameri- 
can homes. 12 

Throughout the land orchestras hammered away day and 
night at "Mister Gallagher and Mister Shean," and then at "Yes, 
We Have No Bananas," "Barney Google," or "Valencia." "O1" 
Man River" kept rolling along. The crooning voice of Rudy 
YaUee (*Tm Just a Vagabond Lover") stirred millions of femi- 
nine hearts; husky-toned torch singers soothed masculine breasts 
with "Moanin Low" and *Am I Blue?" Then there were Roxy 
and his Gang, the Happiness Boys, the A and P Gypsies, the 
Cliquot Club Eskimos, the Ipana Troubadours. . . . 

Saxophones, trombones, ukuleles supplied an orgy of sound 
such as the world had never known. Writing in 1928, Charles 
Merz declared that twenty to thirty million Americans were 
'listening in on the greatest single sweep of synchronized and 
syncopated rhythm that human ingenuity has yet conceived. 
This is our counterpart of the drum the black man beats when 
the night is dark and the jungle lonely. Tom-tom." 13 Tin Pan 
Alley was rejuvenated. It was no longer the minstrel show, the 
vaudeville team, or the circus that spread the new songs through- 
out the country. It was the radio. It gave them an immediate and 
universal vogue an almost instantaneous nation-wide popularity. 

This music was not the whole show. Classical music piano 
recitals, concert singing, symphonies, opera broadcasts appealed 
to a small but nevertheless growing public. After 1927 there was 
general agreement among musicians that radio was definitely 


serving to improve popular taste. 14 Women particularly favored 
symphonic music, and national advertisers discovered that con- 
certs as well as dance music might serve the cause of expanding 
sales. Soon many millions were listening to the Metropolitan 
Opera every Saturday afternoon and to the New York Philhar- 
monic-Symphony orchestra every Sunday. 

An interesting influence was exerted on the phonograph. About 
1919. it represented one of the most popular of all home diver- 
sions. The American people were spending more on phonographs 
and equipment, spurred on by an apparently limitless desire 
for new records, than they were on all other musical instruments, 
on US books and periodicals, or on all sporting goods. The radio 
caused an almost immediate collapse in these sales, the total 
dropping in twelve years from $339,000,000 to $17,000,000. 15 As 
a general medium of entertainment, the phonograph almost dis- 
appeared. But what now happened was that greatly improved 
and more expensive phonographs, combined with radios, slowly 
began to make up some of this lost ground, and there was a boom 
in the sale of recordings of classical music. 

The phonograph industry, that is, went through a transforma- 
tion somewhat comparable to the changes that had developed in 
theatrical enterprise. The radio supplied the popular product, 
as vaudeville and then the movies had done for the theatre, and 
phonographs were largely produced for the more cultured au- 
dience which wanted something more than jazz and syncopation. 
By the 1930's this trend had become very marked, and the 
parallel between the radio and movies, on the one hand, and 
phonographs and the legitimate theatre, on the other, was an 
interesting phenomenon of the amusement world. In time even 
the piano trade, which also had fallen into the doldrums, felt 
the quickening effect of a new appreciation for music which the 
radio inspired but did not wholly satisfy. 

Music in general (popular and classical) made up some three- 
fourths of radio's programs in its early years. Next in popularity 
were the broadcasts of sporting events football games, prize- 


fights, and major-league baseball games. 16 There was for long 
no more familiar voice in all the land than that of Graham Mc- 
Namee excitedly describing the winning touchdown, the knock- 
out blow, or the ninth-inning three-bagger. Radio dramas and 
skits had also been developed into a new art. There were mys- 
tery plays, melodramas, and variety acts. Humorous broadcasts 
had a great vogue. When stock-market prices began to crash and 
breadlines lengthen after 1929, literally millions of people turned 
on their radios every night to listen to the complicated business 
and domestic affairs of Amos *n Andy. Other radio head-liners 
came and went as the great American people took up first one 
and then another with that penchant for fads which has always 
been so characteristic of the popular attitude. 

At the same time religious services, public functions, political 
talks, were broadcast regularly. News reports not only sports 
and market prices but all foreign and domestic news featured 
every program. The radio commentator became a new figure 
in the world of affairs. Countless lectures falling within the edu- 
cational field were zealously promoted as sustaining programs. 
Throughout the day, housewives, half -listening to the radio as 
they went about their work, were regaled with health talks, 
fashion hints, recipes, and general household advice. There were 
children's stories and spelling contests. It all came under the 
head of entertainment, however serious some of the talks and 
speeches. The process of taking it in was so completely pain- 
less. Should the listener ever become bored, a twist of the dial 
and he could change his program. 17 

WITH further expansion in the 1930's, for the sale of radios did 
not suffer from the depression as much as many other forms of 
entertainment, the invisible audience grew still larger. The 
twelve million sets in use at the opening of the decade had in- 
creased to some forty millions by its close. 18 More than four- 
fifths of the entire population could listen in, and sometimes did, 


to nation-wide hook-ups on special occasions. There were not 
only radios in more than twenty-six million private homes, in 
countless clubs, hotels, schools, and other institutions, but also 
on railroad trains and in over five million automobiles. It was 
hard to escape them. Traveling salesmen, cruising taxicab drivers 
in the cities, even farmers driving their tractors, had radios. 
They were one of the most commonplace features of American 

While there had been a continued advance in broadcasting 
classical music, growing appreciation of folk-songs, new experi- 
ments with radio drama, and possibly greater discussion of pub- 
lic affairs, the more popular features of broadcasting still largely 
filled the air. Tin Pan Alley continued to turn out songs to meet 
every need; stars of both the stage and the movie world were 
drafted for radio "appearances"; hillbilly and dance music was 
always available on a dozen stations. The minstrel show had a 
belated revival over the air, and vaudeville a new incarnation. 
Countless thrillers were adapted for broadcasting, and exciting 
serials were followed as eagerly, and by an even larger audience, 
as The Perils of Pauline had been followed on the screen a 
quarter-century earlier. 

The diversity of entertainment on the air made the attractions 
of moving-picture theatres appear stereotyped. The program 
changed generally at fifteen-minute intervals. The listener in- 
advertently timing in on "The Woman in White" could hardly 
discover what was going on before another voice had begun a 
new chapter in "Aunt Jenny's Story." Melody and Madness 
succeeded Information, Please; the sketch Blondie was sand- 
wiched between two song recitals; the major-league baseball 
broadcast (the moment the last man was called out) was fol- 
lowed by a talk on Men and Books; Little Orphan Annie faded 
out to give way to Science in the News; church hymns were 
squeezed in after the sketch Valiant Lady; Zinn's Orchestra, 
Buck Rogers, and Uncle Don followed in quick succession; Mrs. 
Roosevelt was worked into the Hobby Lobby between two 


variety shows; the Goldbergs gave way to Life Can Be Beau- 
tiful; a Success Session paved the way for the Chicago Sym- 
phony; Edwin G Hill on the news led to Percy Faith's Music; 
Lowell Thomas followed immediately after the Ink Spot Quartet; 
the Lone Ranger. . . . 1S It was a mad world. Here was something 
for all the family, but one had to be quick to catch it. 

"The lives of most of my friends," Weare Holbrook wrote in 
a sketch, "The Ears Have It," in the Herald Tribune Magazine, 
"seem to be governed by radio programs. In planning any social 
function, one must allow for the vagaries of the Charlie- 
McCarthophiles, the Jack-Bennyites, the Eddie-Cantorians, the 
Information Pleasers, and other devotees of ethereal cults; and 
the East Teabone Friday Evening Bridge Club has disbanded, 
simply because it is impossible to get a quorum any more. 

**When I hear my host and hostess speaking in a preoccupied 
manner, and see them glancing surreptitiously at the clock, I no 
longer feel constrained to say, Well, I guess I'd better be running 
along/ Instead I say, *How about turning on the radio? 7 And it is, 
gratifying to observe the eagerness with which they respond to 
my suggestion." 20 

Objections were sometimes raised as to the way announce- 
ments of the remarkable qualities of such-and-such a tooth paste, 
deodorant, cigarette, automobile, or cathartic broke in on the 
closing chords of the symphony or interrupted the climax of the 
western melodrama. But the public generally realized that some 
one had to support broadcasting. It felt that it was paying a 
small price for its entertainment in letting the national adver- 
tisers have a chance to sell their products. And, after all, it was 
not necessary to listen to their announcements. 

From the economic point of view, the advertising r61e of the 
radio was even more important than its status as an industry 
marketing several hundred million dollars* worth ($450,000,000 
in 1937) of products annually. 21 Manufacturers reaching a mass 
market found it an increasingly effective method of promoting 
sales. Campaigns were geared to radio programs. Merchandisers 


counted on a flood of orders when announcers told a gullible 
public (after the heroine had been left hanging over the edge 
of the cliff, or the swing band had emitted its last squawk) that 
now was the time to change to winter oil or underwear and 
to take a liver pill for that tired feeling. Never before had enter- 
tainment been so closely allied with the operations of big 

With the near-perfection in the technicalities of broadcasting 
and reception, if not in the quality of programs, that the industry 
could now rightfully claim, had radio made its ultimate con- 
tribution to the entertainment of the American people? At the 
close of the decade television appeared over the horizon. It had 
already been introduced on a limited scale. The millions of visi- 
tors who thronged the New York's World Fair in the summer of 
1939 had the opportunity not only to hear but to see over the 
air. The development of this new device had not yet advanced 
very far beyond the equivalent of the vitascope stage of motion- 
picture production, but radio engineers promised a phenomenal 
expansion which in time might revolutionize all broadcasting. 
(Plastic surgeons in New York were reported opening television 
hospitals to remodel radio announcers' faces for the future movies 
of the air.) 

As it was, the radio provided more amusement for more peo- 
ple than even the moving picture or the automobile. Every study 
of how people spent their leisure time in the 1930's placed listen- 
ing-in high on the list of possible amusements, if not at the very 
top. 22 Reading was put off, card tables closed up, conversation 
languished, in favor of the programs of the great broadcasting 
companies. The local baseball team had few supporters when 
big-league games came over the air; church entertainments could 
hardly compete with Broadway stars. In the average household 
the radio was generally left on for three or four hours a day. 28 
From the early-morning weather announcement to the dying 
Strains of the orchestra in some New York night club, it had 
something to interest or entertain every one. More generally 


available in urban communities, its invasion of the country (al- 
most seventy per cent of rural families owned radios ) was pos- 
sibly the most important aspect of its growth. The automobile 
had made it possible for the farmer to get to town occasionally 
for the movies, breaking down the isolation of the nineteenth 
century, but the radio brought music and drama into his home 
whenever he wanted it. There were also the large number of 
shut-in people the aged, the sick, the blind who had never be- 
fore had anything remotely comparable to the radio to lighten 
the empty loneliness of their lives. 

THE BROAD SCOPE of this medium for broadcasting not only enter- 
tainment but news and opinion continued to arouse the anxiety 
over its possible effects on popular thinking expressed in the 
New Republic's caustic editorial of 1924. Church leaders be- 
labored radio for providing so much dance music and so little 
religion; educators bewailed lost opportunities for raising the 
cultural level; the social-minded generally coupled the radio with 
the movies in their worries over standardization, leveling of the 
public mind, the regimentation of all thought. While mass con- 
sumption so completely governed the selection of programs, it 
was contended that the radio could never have any cultural value 
or appeal for the sophisticated minority. The dangers of propa- 
ganda over the air, in respect to both domestic politics and inter- 
national affairs, also created very real concern in such a troubled 
period as the 1930's. With the outbreak of war, broadcasts 
across national boundaries the incredible phenomenon of hear- 
ing a Hitler actually deliver an address changing the whole 
course of world events threw into stark relief the potentialities 
of the radio for good or evil in a field which went far beyond the 
boundaries of amusement. 

It was left to the future to wrestle with these problems. The 
American people for the time at least upheld the freedom of the 
air and would have no governmental restraints thrown about the 


radio other than supervision of wave-lengths. They were content 
to leave such censorship as was essential to the broadcasting 
companies themselves. Their complete dependence upon public 
good-will was felt to be the greatest possible safeguard against 
abuse of their tremendous power. 


carried away by successive crazes. The tremendous popu- 
larity o dancing in the middle of the eighteenth century was 
remarked upon by many European visitors, while the Marquis 
de Chastellux was amazed by Boston's "passion" for whist in the 
1780*s. The mid-nineteenth century witnessed enthusiastic vogues 
for phrenology, balloon ascensions, minstrel shows, pedestrian 
races, and the phenomenon of "Lindomania." In the decades 
after the Civil War we have seen the fashionable frenzy with 
which new outdoor pastimes were adopted by society, the epi- 
demics of croquet, roller-skating, and lawn tennis which spread 
so rapidly over the land. And in the 1890's this same instinct to 
take up whatever was new or different, to rush hurriedly along 
untrodden ways, was evident in the tremendous growth of fra- 
ternal organizations and women's clubs, in the avidity with 
which the public welcomed refined vaudeville, and in the interest 
excited by amateur photography, John L. Sullivan, band concerts, 
and bicycling. 

The twentieth century found an even more susceptible public 
taking up with still greater vehemence new fads and fancies. 
Entirely apart from the enthusiastic reception given such major 
amusements as the movies, automobile touring, or the radio, and 
the welcome accorded the new sports still to be considered, it 
rushed through a succession of varied diversions with an inten- 
sity born of the feverish pace of modern life. In the ballyhoo 
years of the 'twenties this zest for novelties had become almost 
a mania. "One of the most striking characteristics of the era of 



Coolidge Prosperity/* Frederick Lewis Allen has written in Only 
Yesterday, "was the unparalleled rapidity and unanimity with 
which millions of men and women turned their attention, their 
talk, and their emotional interest upon a series of tremendous 
trifles a heavyweight boxing match, a murder trial, a new auto- 
mobile, a transatlantic flight" a 

As one looks back upon the first forty years of the new century, 
there is something strange and wonderful about the kaleidoscopic 
scene. Ragtime burst upon the country to drive out the old- 
fashioned waltzes and polkas, gave way after its brief rule to jazz, 
and then in turn jazz surrendered to swing. There was an epi- 
demic of diabolo in 1907, of ping-pong in 1913, of mah-jong in 
1923, of cross-word puzzles in 1924, and of miniature golf in 1930. 
With bewildering rapidity the country also took up (and usually 
ran into the ground) dance marathons, bathing-beauty contests, 
bunion derbys, flagpole sitters, comic strips, greyhound-races, 
and "Yes, We Have No Bananas." 

Striking the country with its full force on the eve of the de- 
pression, contract bridge almost overnight became the obsession 
of millions. In a somewhat more sober spirit, the 1930's also 
found the country taking up gardening, bingo, amateur theatri- 
cals, treasure-hunts, monopoly, Chinese checkers, The Game, 
prize contests, and the big apple. In some cases the fad bit deep 
enough to become a lasting habit (contract bridge, cross-word 
puzzles, gardening), but more generally it quickly gave way to 
something else as with unquestioning enthusiasm everybody 
climbed aboard the Great American Band-Wagon. 

THE PBE-WAK CBAZE for dancing ushered in by ragtime made it 
more popular than it had ever been before. The bright par- 
ticular stars who led this revival were Mr. and Mrs. Vernon 
Castle. Under the inspiration of their graceful example, hundreds 
of thousands enthusiastically learned the new dances which 
the stimulating music of "Alexander's Ragtime Band" had intro- 


duced, gliding happily through the mazes of the fox-trot and 
the hesitation waltz at fashionable thes dansants and in public 
ball-rooms. 2 One of the favorite dance tunes was "Everybody's 
Doing It" and it was almost literally true. It was reported that 
when a young girl was arraigned on a charge of disorderly con- 
duct for turkey-trotting, counsel for defense easily won his case 
by singing "Everybody's Doing It." The jury joined in the chorus 
and brought in a quick verdict of acquittal. 8 

The Castles played an influential part in setting the tone of 
this revival of social dancing. A later commentator wrote that the 
pre-war craze was "an opening engagement in that revolution in 
manners and morals which was to excite America during the 
nineteen twenties," 4 but music and dancing were far more 
decorous than in that later decade. The bunny hug, lame duck, 
and grizzly bear awoke derision and some criticism, but the 
Castles countered with the tango and maxixe. At the thes 
dansants fashion decreed that actual tea should be served. "Here 
in America we are just beginning to wake up to the possibilities 
of dancing," Mr. and Mrs. Castle wrote. "We are beginning to 
take our place among the nations who enjoy life." 5 

The next step was jazz. There is a natural musical language 
of jazz, whose esthetic significance may be left to the musicians, 
but in its popular, commercialized forms it has been loosely de- 
fined as "dance music, generally syncopated, played by a small 
band eccentrically composed." 6 Paul Whiteman termed it "the 
folk music of the machine age." 7 Known immemorially among 
the Negroes of the South, it was first brought north about 1914 
when various "original" Dixieland Jazz Bands began playing 
in Chicago night clubs, and then went on to New York jazzing 
the ragtime blues. 8 The real jazz was played without a score, 
individual players "faking" their parts, or freely improvising, as 
they went along. But it was after Whiteman undertook its or- 
chestrationwith the development of symphonic jazz that it 
really caught on. And then it swept the country like wild-fire. It 
was so universally the dance music of the 1920's that it gave its 


name to the decade. "To write fully and adequately about jazz," 
Mark Sullivan states in Our Times, 'would be to write the history 
of much of the generation." 9 

The saxophone was its most essential instrument "the heart, 
soul, mind, body and spirit of the jazz orchestra." Everywhere 
the younger generation fox-trotted to its barbaric yawp, clinging 
to one another in what one editor described as a "syncopated 
embrace." 10 Gradually their elders succumbed to the contagion. 
All the world danced to "Kitten on the Keys," "Crazy Rhythm," 
Tm Always Chasing Rainbows," "Tea for Two," "It Ain't Gonna 
Rain No More," "The Japanese Sandman," "111 Say She Does," 
"Youre the Cream in My Coffee," "I Faw Down an* Go 
Boom " . . . ai 

The violent acrobatics of the Charleston became a new rage: 

We all went to the party, a real high-toned affair 
And then along came Lulu, as wild as any Zulu. 
She started in to 'Charleston,* 
And how the boys did stare. . . , 12 

Jazz set the pace for the hundreds of night clubs, pretentious 
outgrowth of the first humble speak-easies of these days of Pro- 
hibition. At Texas Guinan's, the Embassy Club, Helen Morgan's, 
and the Cotton Club, New York's fashionable world "made 
whoopee" in a garish atmosphere spiced with gin and apple- 
jack. 18 It was the music for the dances of country club, fraternity, 
and pastime association in the small town. It came over the air 
for informal dances at a million homes roll back the rugs, turn 
on the radio. It ruled supreme at public dance-halls for working 
men and working girls who had no other opportunity to have 
their whirl at fox-trot or Charleston. It dominated the cities' 
growth of taxi dance-halls ("Eureka Dancing Academy Fifty 
Beautiful Lady Instructors") where city slickers and country 
boys, old-line Americans and newly arrived immigrants, found 
willing partners at a dime a dance. 14 "There are thirty million 
people vfrho dance in the United States, daily, weekly, or fre- 


quentiy," a magazine writer stated in 1924. "A billion dollars for 
dancing by rich and poor would be a modest bill." 15 

The type of dancing inspired by jazz awoke a storm of protest 
from the pure in heart. "The music is sensuous, the embracing 
of partners the female only half dressed is absolutely indecent," 
the Catholic Telegraph declared, "and the motionsthey are such 
as may not be described, with any respect for propriety, in a 
family newspaper. Suffice it to say that there are certain houses 
appropriate for such dances; but these houses have been closed 
by law." Other religious journals united in denouncing the new 
dances as "impure, polluting, corrupting, debasing, destroying 
spirituality, increasing carnality/* 16 

Jazz and the cheek-to-cheek dancing it inspired were but an- 
other manifestation of the post-war upheaval in morals which 
had set the country, so the reformers sincerely believed, on a 
downward course that led to chaos and destruction. The younger 
generation was running wild short skirts and rolled stockings, 
bobbed hair, corsets parked in the ladies' dressing-room, the 
"insidious vintage'* of rouge, cigarettes and hip-flasks, petting 
parties. ... It was all a part of the spiritual confusion of an age 
whose reflex from a war psychosis had led to a mad pursuit of 
pleasure in which the .standards of an earlier day appeared to 
have gone completely by the board. 

The country, even the younger generation, survived. It was 
perhaps inevitable that with all it had gone through, it should 
have to let off steam for a time with the throttle wide open and 
careless disregard of all warning signals. The war had precipi- 
tated, made more violent, changes in the social scene which 
otherwise would have come more slowly. The growing accep- 
tance of the right to play was for a time translated into a popular 
belief that nothing except play really mattered. The freedom that 
women were slowly winning became the license characterized, 
in certain circles of society, by the knee-length skirt and the 
petting-party. A more healthy balance was in time restored, but 
the jazz age promoted a freedom in social activities and in the 


popular attitude toward amusements which really did mark a 
social revolution. 

EAHLY IN THE 1920's another craze hit the country so hard that 
for a time it appeared that there would be no further playing of 
the age-old pastime of cards no more chess, checkers, or dom- 
inoes. Mah-jong was a Chinese game which had become popular, 
with simplified rules, at the English-speaking clubs of Shanghai. 
In the summer of 1922 the experiment was made of importing a 
few sets into the United States. The game was publicized with 
the technique so familiar to the ballyhoo years, and it took hold 
almost at once. "From fifty thousand tables strewn with green 
bamboos and fallen Dragons," Charles Merz was writing the next 
year in the New Republic, "comes a nightly chorus, Fung!" 17 
American manufacturers began to exploit the market for ex- 
pensive sets of ivory and bamboo tiles, and despite all the in- 
tricacies of the game and bitter disputes over the proper rules of 
play, mah-jong was all the rage. 

It faded away almost as quickly as it had appeared. Soon the 
Ming box, South Winds, and Red Dragons were forgotten in 
favor of a new amusement which created even more of a pother 
and showed greater signs of permanence. For long newspapers 
had occasionally published cross-word puzzles, and the New 
York World had been running them since 1912. They meant 
little in the lives of most people, but gradually a group of the 
intelligentsia among others Heywood Broun, F.P.A., and Ruth 
Hale took them up, and in 1924 it occurred to an editor just 
embarked on a new publishing venture that a cross-word puzzle 
book might aid the infant firm in getting started. He appealed 
to the puzzle editors of the World to help him out, and the result 
was a slim volume, equipped with a pencil, whose sale now 
became the new publishing firm's major aim. 18 

"We hired halls. We drafted by-laws and rules for amateur 
cross-word orgies,'* wrote one of its members. ". . . we visited 


editors, urging them to put cross-word puzzles in the papers 

Soon we were selling thousands of copies a day and breaking 
into the best seller lists." 19 Other puzzle books crowded close 
on the heels of the pioneer; newspapers everywhere fell in line 
with the idea of printing daily puzzles, and there was a phenom- 
enal demand for dictionaries and copies of Roget's Thesaurus. 
"The newspapers carried the news that a Pittsburgh pastor had 
put the text of his sermon into a puzzle/' one commentator wrote t 
'The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad placed dictionaries in all the 
trains on its main line. A traveler between New York and Boston 
reported that 60 per cent of the passengers were trying to fill 
up squares in their puzzles, and that in the dining-car five waiters 
were trying to think of a five-letter word which meant 'serving 
to inspire fear/ Anybody you met on the street could tell you 
the name of the Egyptian sun-god or provide you with a two- 
letter word which meant a printer's measure." 20 The fad, in short, 
was universal. 

Supplemented by the vogue they inspired for otiher somewhat 
comparable games, cross-word puzzles appeared to Kathleen 
Norris to have opened up entirely new vistas for the American 
people. The newspapers are full of games words to guess, rimes 
to fill in, ingenious autographs to make, novels to identify," she 
wrote in the Ladies 9 Home Journal in 1928. "'Clerks and plumbers 
and school-teachers and school children go home elbow to elbow 
in the Subway, muttering five letter words that mean common- 
place or trying to supply the laddergram links between Bride and 
Groom. Amusement, once the prerogative of royalty and wealth, 
is everywhere, now, and with this wave of games the nation gains 
a great lifting of the spirit, a sort of universal heightening per 
capita of the country's average enjoyment." 21 

Somewhat less happy conclusions were drawn from the same 
phenomena by George Jean Nathan. "The games and diversions 
that man invents for the pleasure of his leisure hours," he wrote 
in the American Mercury, "are of such an unbelievable stupidity 
and dulness that it is impossible to imagine even the lowest of 


God's animals and insects indulging in relatively imbecile re- 
laxations." 22 

Whether it may be judged as furthering "a sort of universal 
heightening per capita of the country's average enjoyment" or 
merely as again demonstrating man's inferiority to the lowest of 
God's animals and insects, the next fad that made an impression 
upon the country comparable to that of mah-jong or crossword 
puzzles was miniature golf. This game involved hitting a ball 
across a surface of crushed cotton-seed hulls and through various 
tin pipes into a series of holes which represented, as the game's 
name implied, a replica of a golf-course. In the summer of 1930 
it was hailed, and in the utmost seriousness, as a psychological 
and economic answer to the depression which President Hoover's 
optimism could no longer conceal was now spreading over the 
entire country. Miniature golf was taldng the minds of the mul- 
titude off the troubles in which their lives seemed enmeshed; it 
was creating a demand for cotton-seed hulls and tin pipes which 
would revive both the cotton and steel industries. 

Thirty thousand courses, valued as high as $125,000,000, sprang 
up. 23 They became almost as commonplace along motor roads 
as filling-stations or hot-dog stands; they took over the empty 
lots of every town and city. Miniature golf was played through- 
out the day by its devotees; it was played well into the night, 
under glaring arc-lights. Its cheapness was in line with the 
chastened spirit of the amusement-seekers of 1930, and it filled 
the leisure of many who unaccountably found themselves without 
jobs. It had a further appeal in its resemblance to golf itself. 
Players of the "midget" game could talk as glibly as the country- 
club crowd on the difficulties of the fourth hole, of their eagles 
and birdies. Men and women, boys and girls, rented putters and 
chased balls around the tortuous tin-pipe courses. It was an in- 
expensive and novel way for the young man to entertain his 
girl friend. 

The game flourished through that memorable summer like a 
green bay tree, and when winter caused the closing of the 


courses, it was still confidently expected that the next year would 
see even further expansion. But by then the public had tired of 
miniature golf. It had been a one-year phenomenon. A few pro- 
prietors of courses hung on, but the motorist no longer stopped 
for a passing game, and the young man again took his girl friend 
to a movie or else they sat on a park bench. 

Elmer Davis, writing in December, 1930, when the future of 
both miniature golf and the economic state of the nation ap- 
peared somewhat rosier than events were to prove they actually 
were, paid his dutiful respects to the sport. "So perhaps miniature 
golf did its part, and a large part," he said in Harper's, "in carry- 
ing us past a crisis. Perhaps the business revival would have come 
sooner if the President, and the Cabinet, and Congress had be- 
come miniature golf addicts too/* 24 

THE PUTIEBS were still being swung at roadside courses when a 
very considerable part of the population found itself even more 
absorbed, almost to the exclusion of depression worries, in con- 
tract bridge. 

Auction had been introduced into this country soon after the 
opening of the century. Originally devised as a three-handed 
game by three British civil servants in India who found time 
hanging heavy on their hands, 25 it had not only taken the place 
of whist in the social world but had given a new interest to gen- 
eral card-playing. It appealed especially to women of the middle 
class whose increasing leisure gave them afternoons they often 
did not quite know how to fill. The bridge club, with its teas and 
luncheons, had come to represent one of the major social ac- 
tivities of town and suburban life, while informal evening play 
met the needs of those who desired entertainment without the 
effort of making conversation. As compared with only one card- 
party reported in Middletowns local press during three months 
in 1890, the Lynds discovered notices of thirty such affairs in a 
comparable period for 1923. 26 

Golf on d Vacant Lot 

Devotees of Swing 

An audience of Bob Crosby's Bob Cats thrilling to hot exploits on the bull 

fiddle in a Chicago restaurant. Photograph by Bernard Hoffman, courtesy 

of Life. 


In spite of auction's popularity, the introduction of contract 
with its more involved play and complicated scoring intensified 
this craze to an extent which amazed even those who were doing 
their best to promote it. It had been played in Europe some time 
earlier but was first brought to this country in 1926. The next 
year official rules were adopted by the Whist Club, and at first 
slowly, then with a sudden rush, contract completely supplanted 
auction. 27 By 1931 enrolment in the new bridge courses started 
by professional teachers totaled five hundred thousand, and al- 
together there were estimated to be some twenty million play- 
ers. 28 The newspapers had bridge columns, magazines were 
founded to explain the game's fine points, and over a hundred 
instruction books were on the market. Tournaments attracted 
the attention usually reserved for championship prize-fights or 
intercollegiate football games. Bridge had its Four Horsemen as 
well as football. The entire country hung breathlessly on the out- 
come of a sensational Battle of the Century between the leading 
experts. "If contract is not the national game," wrote a contributor 
describing this "purest of pleasures" for Harper's in 1932, *it is 
second only to golf." 29 

The promotional activities of contract's high priest, Ely Cul- 
bertson, revealed a new genius in the art of ballyhoo. He made a 
card game news as it never had been before. A furor was aroused 
when he introduced his approach-forcing system of bidding and 
challenged supporters of the official system to prove that he was 
not superbly right in everything he said and wrote. The game 
was played everywhere. If the working class still clung to pedro 
or five hundred, the social world made contract an almost in- 
variable rule for after-dinner entertainment. Until the effects of 
the depression somewhat moderated the fever, it was primarily 
a money game. The stakes ranged from a dollar a point in the 
fashionable clubs to a tenth of a cent among those who could not 
afford to gamble. And it was always taken seriously. It seemed 
almost heresy to many thousands torn with anxiety as to how 
they should return their partner's lead, lying awake at night 


smarting tinder the chagrin of a misleading discard, when the 
great maestro was quoted as having admitted that "after all, 
contract is only a game." so 

DURING the depression years other fads generally reflected the 
forced economies that most people had to make. One of the most 
popular, the game of bingo, went a step further. It presented a 
chance to win something, and all over the country men, women, 
and children spent long hours trying to fill up a row of numbers 
on a cardboard square in the hope of taking home a ham, a box 
of groceries, a tin of coffee, or one of the rare money prizes. 
Bingo was played at amusement parks, movie theatres, penny 
arcades, firemen's carnivals, country fairs, Grange suppers, and 
church socials. It appealed to the gambling instinct of a people 
always ready for a game of chance. The rewards were never very 
great, but the risk was even less thirty-five games for thirty-five 
cents was the usual charge to play. 

It had been a minor carnival attraction, together with beano 
and keno, for at least thirty years before it was exploited so sue- ' 
cessfully during the 1930's. How it then started on such a pros- 
perous career remains a mystery, but there was no question that 
the something-for-nothing motive or at least something for 
thirty-five cents made an appeal which amusement-seekers 
with little to spend found it hard to resist. 31 When it spread from 
carnivals and amusement parks to church socials, a storm of con- 
troversy arose over the ethics of the gambling involved, but 
despite all protests it continued to be played as church com- 
mittees found it the easiest way of raising money. 

"Bingo Every Night in the Holy Spirit Room" was the startling 
announcement of one church presenting it as regular entertain- 
ment. And it had warm defenders. "I cannot grow frenzied with 
the puritanic precisionists who rate the bourgeois pastime of 
bingo as a major sin," one churchman wrote. "Church bingo par- 
ties are a healthy substitute for gossip teas, lovesick movies, and 


liberal minded lecturers." Outraged ministers of the gospel might 
declare that "the Kingdom of God cannot be established by 
shooting craps," but the more realistic among them seemed to 
feel tihat bingo was a relatively innocent pastime in comparison 
with other money games. 82 Many communities, however, finally 
felt forced to take action against what they considered the dan- 
gerous spread of gambling. As a striking throwback to its old 
blue laws, Connecticut, the land of steady habits, was among 
those which moved to prohibit the game. 

Somewhat analogous to bingo was the craze for prize contests. 
In newspapers and magazines, over the radio, the public was 
eloquently urged by interested advertisers to while away the 
hours and win substantial rewards by completing a limerick ex- 
tolling some breakfast food or by discovering the name of a facial 
cream hidden in a cartoon. If reformers again suggested that 
prize contests came perilously close to lotteries, generally banned 
since their own vogue early in the nineteenth century, millions 
nevertheless enjoyed them. And in most cases they accepted with 
patient resignation their failure to win the offered prizes an 
automobile, a trip to Europe, a radio, a bicycle, a diamond pin, 
and occasionally cash awards as high as a thousand dollars. 

It was estimated in 1938 that there had been a thousand per 
cent increase in prize contests since the advent of the depression. 
Twenty-five million persons were said to take part in them on 
an average of twice a year, some individual contests attracting 
as many as three million entries. 33 The magazine Win offered its 
own selection for addicts whom the national advertisers could 
not keep busy. Anagrams were puzzled over, missing words filled 
in, the names of popular songs guessed, cross-word puzzles 
worked out, verses composed, and candid-camera shots submitted 
in scores of amateur-photography contests. 

Another widespread expression of the gambling spirit (with 
even less dependence on skill) was the depression-fostered popu- 
larity of slot machines, pinball games, punchboards, and jar deals. 
In an article called "Ten Billion Nickels" a writer in the Saturday 


Evening Post estimated tibat the annual take of these gambling 
devices in 1939 was over $500,000,000, while a Gallup poll the 
same year reported that one out of every three adults in the 
country occasionally took a chance on his nickel winning the 
jackpot. With slot-machine installations in cigar stores, filling 
stations, lunch counters, drug-stores, and bars, here was a form 
of petty gambling actually more important than all the betting 
on horse-races, policy games, and cards. 

Along quite different lines, gardening attained a popularity in 
these years that it had never before experienced. It was hardly 
a new diversion. A good many centuries earlier Milton had 

And add to these retired Leisure, 

That in trim gardens takes his pleasure. 

But it appealed to people in the 1930's whose leisure was en- 
forced rather than retired. As the Lynds pointed out in Middle- 
town Revisited, there was a rediscovery of the back yard when 
amusements farther afield seemed impractical that took the 
form of a "mild mania of flower gardening/' 84 Neglected strips 
of land blossomed out in a profusion of color, and in many cases 
more economically with carefully weeded rows of vegetables. In 
the upper reaches of society the growing popularity of this out- 
door amusement found expression in the organization of garden 
clubs, deeply concerned with annual exhibitions in which the 
rivalry over delphinium and gladioli was as intense as that of 
the bridge-table. Working-class families were content to cul- 
tivate their flowers and vegetables without any such stimulus. 

Other hobbies were taken up by the score. So widespread was 
this development that department stores established hobby sec- 
tions, newspapers and magazines ran special hobby pages ( The 
Rotarian called its page the Hobbyhorse Hitching Post), the radio 
had its Hobby Lobby, and home-owners made over their cellars 
into hobby-rooms. Among the rush of books to promote the idea 
that every man and woman should develop some special in- 


terest for his leisure hours, one of the most successful was 
Earnest Elmo Calkin's The Care and Feeding of Hobby Horses. 
Despite the general tendency to take up something that would 
be as inexpensive as possible, it was estimated in 1937 that the 
American people were spending anywhere from $50,000,000 to 
$200,000,000 a year on the craze. 35 . 

What were the hobbies? Thousands of people took up model- 
ing, water-colors, or wood-carving; collected old bottles, cam- 
paign buttons, Indian relics, or match-boxes; built model trains 
and boats and airplanes; experimented with soap sculpture and 
puppet shows; studied botany, astronomy, or geology; tried to 
breed scotties or tropical fish. . . . 

WHILE NONE of these minor diversions of the 1930's was in 
any way quite comparable in sudden and universal popular- 
ity to mah-jong, cross-word puzzles, or miniature golf, swing 
won a distinctive place for itself. As the saxophones blared forth 
this fresh interpretation of how dance music should be played, 
a race of "jitterbugs" sprang up to prove that the Great American 
Band-Wagon was still lumbering along its appointed course for 
all the bumps and jolts of the depression. 

Swing was actually, again to quote the musical theorists, a 
return to the musical language of jazz, whose original glories had 
become somewhat dimmed by commercialization. It carried one 
step further the free improvising that had marked the playing 
of the first jazz bands. But it too became commercialized as 
quickly as had jazz after 1914, and in its popular manifestations 
differed only in degree from music to which America had long 
since become accustomed. 36 The new orchestras nevertheless 
created a tremendous stir. They swung the compositions of the 
great composers; they swung the verses of old nursery rhymes. 
Although it did not create anything like the excitement of its 
revolt in the 1920*s, the younger generation again kicked up its 
heels. When Benny Goodman's orchestra first opened in New 


York, a theatre audience largely made up of high-school students 
became so hysterically enthusiastic that staid observers com- 
pared the scene to accounts of the children's crusades. 

New dances accompanied the upsurge of swing music. At 
country club and roadhouse, private party and public dance-hall, 
the generation of the 1930's tried its hand at trucking took up 
and then as quickly dropped the big apple, the shag, the Lam- 
beth Walk, and the chestnut tree. The times had not really 
changed. "If there is anything designed to create more consterna- 
tion in the national bosom than the new style in women's hats/* 
an editorial writer in the Milwaukee Journal observed, "it is un- 
doubtedly the new dances." ST 

Toward the close of the decade the quintessence of harmless 
idiocy seemed to have been reached in some of the musical fads 
taken up by night clubs, now legitimately serving the alcoholic 
drinks which were such an essential part of their entertainment. 
The caf6 society of New York danced to "Where Is My Little 
Dog Gone?" and "London Bridge Is Falling Down," played 
Patty Cake, Patty Cake, and, as the orchestra obligingly swung 
it, mincingly sang: 

Down in de meddy by de itty bitty poo 
Fam -wee itty fitty and a mama fitty, foo. 
*Fim,* said de mama fitty, 'fim if oo tan* 
And dey fam and dey fam all over de dam. 88 



movies, automobile, and radio and the rapid progression of 
popular fads and fancies, there was a no less significant expansion 
of sports. From prize-fights drawing the largest spectator crowds 
since the gladiatorial combats of Imperial Rome to a sudden 
craze for skiing which packed winter excursion trains throughout 
the North, they boomed as never before. If the American people 
actually spent more time motoring, going to the movies, and lis- 
tening to the radio, their interest in sports often appeared to 
transcend that in anything else. 

In 1905 Viscount Bryce had found one of the most noticeable 
innovations in the life of the American people since his earlier 
visits "the passion for looking on at and reading about athletic 
sports." Baseball games and football matches were exciting "an 
interest greater than any other public events except the Presi- 
dential election/* 1 Within a few years the expansion of the news- 
paper sports section intensified this absorption, and as time went 
on it was still further promoted by moving pictures and radio 

But while critics of the American scene declared we were 
becoming a nation of onlookers, that the sports people watched 
rather than played were creating a degenerate race getting out- 
doors only at a stadium or ball park and exercising only in the 
short walk from the parked sedan to the entrance gate, a less 
spectacular growth of active sports was actually bringing about 
a quite opposite development. By the 1920 ? s and 1930's far more 
people than ever before were themselves taking part in games 



and athletics. Active sports experienced a post-war revival com- 
parable to the first surge of popular interest in the years follow- 
ing the Civil War. And they had now so expanded that the 
urban democracy, as well as the middle class and the fashionable 
world, had regained those opportunities for play which had been 
largely lost during the industrial changes of the nineteenth 

The really important development that had taken place since 
organized sports first won their hold in America was illustrated 
by the growth of recreational facilities in the cities playgrounds, 
athletic fields, Softball diamonds, public tennis-courts and golf- 
links. And almost equally significant was the part played by the 
automobile in making the country seashore and mountainac- 
cessible to countless workers who had formerly been completely 
cut off from it. The millions of visitors at national parks and even 
greater crowds at bathing-beaches of themselves marked a gain 
which far outweighed the much more publicized growth of 

Sensing a need already apparent in the mid-nineteenth century, 
Walt Whitman had written that "democracy most of all affiliates 
with the open air." He felt that without access to the revitalizing 
influence of the open country, America could not develop its 
"grand races of mechanics, work people, and commonalty. , . ." 2 
But not until about 1905 was this issue really taken up. An or- 
ganized recreation movement then got under way (some twenty 
years earlier a start had been made with the first provision of 
public playgrounds for children), and there followed a steady 
increase in city parks, equipped with all manner of sports facil- 
ities, which were available for the use of the general public. 8 

This movement progressed slowly for the next quarter-century 
and then was given a tremendous impetus by the depression. In 
the early 1930's, through the Works Progress Administration, the 
aid of the Federal Government was extended to the municipal 
recreation programs. By the close of 1937 some $500,000,000 
(about ten per cent of the W.P.A/S total expenditures) had been 

Pioneer Sportswomen 


allotted for building 3,700 recreational buildings, 881 new parks, 
1,500 athletic fields, 440 swimming-pools, 3,500 tennis-courts, 123 
golf-courses, and 28 miles of ski trails. 4 Twelve hundred cities 
had in all seventeen thousand acres of parks reserved for sports 
activities, and they were annually spending $60,000,000 on their 
upkeep. Bathing-beaches and swimming-pools, with an estimated 
annual attendance of some 200,000,000, were the most popular 
of their facilities, but there were also 8,800 softball diamonds and 
3,600 baseball diamonds at which the player attendance was 
estimated at 31,000,000; 2,400 ice skating-rinks with an attendance 
of 13,000,000; 11,000 tennis-courts with an attendance of 11,000,- 
000; and public golf-courses used by a total of 8,000,000. 5 

Here was the truly democratic approach to this phase of 
recreation. These millions of urban workersmen, women, and 
children were finally enjoying the organized sports that had 
been introduced by the fashionable world half a century and 
more earlier. Democracy was making good its right to play the 
games formerly limited to the small class that had the wealth 
and leisure to escape the city. No exact totals can possibly be 
given as to the number of active sports participants in com- 
parison with attendance at sports spectacles in the 1930's. Nobody 
really knows how many people played softball or tennis, went 
motor-boating or skiing. But the available evidence clearly shows 
that in the first forty years of the twentieth century there was 
a far greater increase in the number of those who played than 
in the number of those who watched, and there is every reason 
to believe that in the 1930's the public was spending far more 
of its leisure and statistics prove that it was spending four times 
as much money on amateur than on professional sports. 6 

In comparison with other countries, more especially those 
which were under a totalitarian form of government, the promo- 
tion of organized outdoor recreation in the United States still 
lagged. Russia had its great parks of culture and rest, Germany 
a nation-wide system of people's recreation centers with huge 
stadia, playing-fields, and swimming-pools. There were such 


foreign organizations, with which nothing in this country was 
quite comparable, as the Strength through Joy movement in 
Germany, the Ready for Work and Defense association in Russia, 
and Italy's National Leisure-Time Institute. 7 All the difference in 
the world, however, lay between the totalitarian and the Amer- 
ican approach to this form of recreation. The one was a defiant 
alliance between the need for popular sports and preparedness 
for war controlled, ordered, regimented. The other had no con- 
nection with military training and was wholly free from any 
suggestion of compulsion or regimentation. In the totalitarian 
countries the trend was very definitely toward the obligatory 
use of leisure time in the interests of the State; in America it 
was toward broader opportunities for play as the people might 
choose to take advantage of them in accord with their own needs 
and interests. 

IN MANY WAYS the outstanding spectator sport of the 192Cfs and 
1930's was intercollegiate football. It had a far larger following 
than the relatively select crowds that had originally supported it, 
the short fall season representing for countless sports enthusiasts 
the climax of the year. The millions who every Saturday afternoon 
made their way to the games were supplemented by many more 
millions who hovered over their radios in comfortable steam- 
heated living-rooms to follow them play by play, and then spent 
Sunday mornings devouring long accounts in the sports sections 
of how it all had happened. Football reigned supreme from the 
opening of early-season practice to the Tournament of Roses. *lt 
is at present a religion/' a contributor to Harpers stated in 1928 
'sometimes it seems to be almost our national religion." 8 

After the reforms adopted in the 1890's had enabled football 
to regain a position threatened by professionalism and roughness, 
it had had to go through still another crisis in 1905. Injuries and 
even fatalities (the death-roll had reached forty-four in 1903) 
had become so general that tie press was uniformly condemning 


the game and many colleges were planning to abolish it. Foot- 
ball became a national issue, President Roosevelt inviting its 
leaders to a White House conference, and public opinion forced 
a number of reforms. The forward pass, the on-side kick, sepa- 
ration of the rush lines, were devised to make it less dangerous, 
and these innovations gradually led to a more open and also 
more interesting game. 9 

Crowds of fifty thousand soon began to attend many other 
contests than those between Harvard, Yale, and Princeton, and in 
the post-war decade football, joyously took part in the dazzling 
upward movement which characterized everything about those 
years from women's skirts to stock-market prices. Sensing their 
opportunity, universities and colleges covered the country with 
great concrete stadia whose total capacity exceeded two millions. 
Yale and California had bowls seating eighty thousand; Illinois, 
Michigan, Ohio State, and several others provided for seventy 
thousand. 10 Empty almost every day of the year except those fab- 
ulous Saturday afternoons in the autumn, the quickened interest 
of the public then taxed all available facilities. It was estimated 
that during the season anywhere from ten to thirty millions (at- 
tendance generally doubling between 1921 and 1930 1X ) watched 
a game which had been almost entirely taken away from college 
graduate or undergraduate and given over to a sports-hungry 
public which supported football as a grandiose commercial 

It was a colorful, exciting show. Every year saw a new sensa- 
tion: the "praying colonels" of Centre College blazing through 
the sky like a meteor, and as quickly fading out; Princeton's 
"Team of Destiny" briefly lighting up the dimmed prestige of 
the one-time Big Three; the Four Horsemen of Notre Dame 
galloping down a dozen fields to win new laurels for Knute 
Rockne; and Red Grange, a team by himself, flashing past all 
other heroes in football's hall of fame. In this glamorous period 
the line between intercollegiate football and the newly popular 
professional game was sometimes hardly distinguishable. Red 


Grange was one of those who after playing his last college season 
definitely stepped over it. While student admirers framed his 
football jersey at Illinois ( also circulating a petition to nominate 
him for Congress), he joined the Chicago Bears, collected $30,000 
in his first game, signed a $300,000 movie contract, and was pre- 
sented to President Coolidge. 12 Here was fame, and also fortune. 

Educators were not wholly pleased with an emphasis on the 
sport that made the academic standing of their institutions so 
negligible a factor in comparison with a football championship. 
Many of them felt that a commercial amusement business, what- 
ever the advertising value of a winning team or the magnitude of 
the gate receipts, did not fall within the functions of a university. 
But the general public, and also the greater part of the nation's 
college alumni, only asked for more victories. Their attitude to- 
ward the criticism voiced by the professorial fraternity was aptly 
expressed in an editorial in Liberty. This popular magazine found 
the protesting faculty members jealous. "The problem is not the 
elimination or restriction of football," Liberty warned, "but how 
long it will be before red-blooded colleges demand the elimina- 
tion or the restriction of those afflicted with this inferiority com- 
plex" 13 

In 1929 football had to withstand the shock of a distressing 
disclosure of overemphasis and professionalism in a report of the 
Carnegie Foundation. But the old fires of controversy as to its 
place in college life could not be fanned into a very fierce flame. 
There was too great a vested interest in the game. An influence 
far more seriously adverse was the depression. It affected the 
sale of big-game tickets just as severely as that of any market 
commodity. Nevertheless intercollegiate football withstood these 
slings of outrageous fortune; it kept its hold on the public. After a 
few comparatively slim years it was again crowding its stadia to 
capacity, creating successive generations of national heroes, and 
monopolizing the radio every Saturday throughout the fall. 

Then there was baseball. In the number of persons who actu- 
ally watched the game, its longer season made it even a little more 


important. But except for the World Series between the winners 
in the National and American leagues, there had been since the 
beginning of the century a relative decline in baseball's popu- 
larity. Small-town games had definitely suffered an eclipse from 
the growth of so many other sports; interest in college baseball 
was waning; and attendance at professional-league gamesjiad 
not kept pace with the population growth of the cities supporting 
teams. An actual decline between 1920 and 1930 was reported 
by several minor leagues. An eleven per cent gain for the majors, 
to an annual total of ten millions, compared with a twenty per 
cent population growth in this same period, 14 and in succeeding 
years attendance did no better than hold these levels. 

Nevertheless, the publicity given baseball (its monopolizing of 
evening-paper head-lines) afforded good evidence that for the 
public at large it was still the national game. And the World 
Series remained an event of the greatest importance. Attendance 
fluctuated. In 1923 it was over 300,000, twice that ten years 
earlier, but the next decade saw it as low as 164,000 one year, 
and over 300,000 only once. 15 Baseball had its national heroes. 
The greatest of them, Babe Ruth, was at the peak of his fame in 
the 1920's. No athletic figure has ever won greater renown than 
this Sultan of Swat with his season record of sixty home runs. 

More typical of the ballyhoo spirit that characterized profes- 
sional athletics was prize-fighting. Tex Rickard took over this 
once disapproved and banned sport, and with a genius for show- 
manship which rivaled that of P. T. Barnum, he made it at once 
respectable and glamorous. The fashionable world fought for 
tickets whose high prices were in themselves proof that prize- 
fighting had undergone some sort of moral regeneration. Women 
forgot their traditional scruples in enjoying the ring's primitive 
combat. The sporting men, who were only a flashier, better- 
dressed counterpart (with more money to bet) of the nineteenth- 
century fancy, happily paid whatever the speculators demanded 
for their ringside seats. Championship bouts came in rapid suc- 
cession, each occasion being built up with the wining aid of the 


press to a greater climax than the one before. The public mania 
for watching sports reached an all-time high in a series of bouts 
in the 1920's which dwarfed all that had gone before. 

There had been a succession of world champions since James 
J. Corbett (all of eight thousand persons watching the epic en- 
counter) had dethroned the great John L. in 1892: Robert Pro- 
metheus Fitzsimmons, James J. Jeffries, Tommy Burns, Jack John- 
son, and finally Jess Willard. But the new era in prize-fighting 
started when Jack Dempsey successfully challenged Willard at 
Toledo in 1919 and Mr. Rickard added up gate receipts of $452,- 
000. By the alchemy of clever publicity he had made the nation 
fight-conscious, and it clamored for bigger and better battles. 
Georges Carpentier, a handsome, flashy Frenchman, went down 
before Dempsey's flailing fists at the Battle of the Century at 
Boyle's Forty Acres in Jersey City, and soon afterwards Luis 
Angel Firpo, the Wild Bull of the Pampas. Million-dollar gates 
became the rule for a championship bout with radio broadcasts, 
movie rights, testimonials, and other activities building up what 
had once been an outlawed sport into a big-time industry le- 
galized in fifteen states as Tboxing contests/' 16 

Gene Tunney, who was to walk with the novelist Thornton 
Wilder and talk with the literary critic William Lyon Phelps, was 
the nemesis of the heretofore invincible Mr. Dempsey. The crowd 
that watched him win the championship at the Philadelphia 
Sesqui-centennial in 1926 broke all records, but they were shat- 
tered again at Chicago in a return bout the next year. Twenty- 
four special trains rolled into town for the great event. There 
were 145,000 spectators at Soldiers Field, with two hundred 
millionaires in the first ten rows. Many of those in the tremendous 
crowd were so far away from the ring that they could not tell 
through the fog of cigarette smoke that Tunney had won the 
fight. It hardly mattered. They had paid $2,650,000 for admission 
and were happy. Every spectator felt he had watched history 
being made, and many more how many millions could hardly 
be said heard it being made over the radio. Five listeners to the 


account of the fight were reported to have dropped dead of 
heart-failure when Tunney went down in the seventh round. 17 

Prize-fighting could not quite adapt itself to the high standards 
with which the new champion sought to endow it. He was never 
popular. And his fortune made (almost $2,000,000 in two years), 
Tunney retired. 18 The day of million-dollar gates was over at 
least for the time being. Not until another colored champion, Joe 
Louis, arose in the late 1930*s (breaking new records by the ease 
with which he knocked out a succession of second-rate chal- 
lengers) did prize-fighting recover some of its lost glamour. Even 
then attendance at his bouts was hardly comparable to that at 
the epic Dempsey-Tunney encounters. 

Other spectator events drew large crowds. The professionaliza- 
tion of new sports, the building of huge arenas, and the extension 
of night playing ( in baseball and football as well as hockey and 
basketball) contributed to their growing popularity. Race-track 
attendance exceeded all previous figures in the 1920's, partly 
owing to the sensational victories of Man o* War, and in 1930 
Gallant Fox awoke a fresh enthusiasm with his successive tri- 
umphs in the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness, and the Belmont 
Stakes. Greyhound racing, another old sport, had a sudden 
revival. The publicity attendant upon the Olympic Games re- 
vived in the 1890's and regularly won by the United States- 
created widespread interest in athletic meets and the hard-fought 
races of champion long-distance runners. Six-day bicycle and 
automobile races retained their old popularity (the crowd at 
Indianapolis in 1939 was estimated at 145,000); professional 
hockey and professional football forged ahead; there was new 
interest in wrestling; and even tennis became a spectator sport. 
With professional as well as amateur teams in the field but 
perhaps most of all because of the high-school craze of the 
Middle West basketball was reported to be attracting an even 
greater aggregate attendance than the more head-lined events. 

It was sometimes confusing to find one's way through the 
maze of sporting news. This is station KDKAWXJEAZFOW," one 


magazine writer transcribed a radio station's broadcast for a 
typical day. "The boys are in top-notch condition and as the first 
ball was pitched Epinard broke clean and scored two goals on 
a good mashie pitch that just cleared the rightfield stands and 
narrowly missed killing Tilden's backhand three inches from the 
cup when the entire Washington team was awarded to McGraw 
on points just as the chukker ended. Listen to the cheering!" 19 
Whenever international competition entered the picture, public 
interest was still further heightened by the dramatic conquests 
of American teams and American players in almost every field 
of so-called amateur sport. The successive victories in the 
Olympic Games, in the Davis Cup tennis matches, in the British- 
American golf matches for the Walker Cup, and in the America's 
Cup yacht-races all added to the popular excitement. 

The country appeared sports-crazy, and every reading of the 
daily paper confirmed it. In 1919 charges of bribe-taking against 
the Chicago White Sox created more of a stir than similar charges 
a few years later against members of the President's Cabinet. 
In 1928 Tilden's debarment from amateur tennis ranks drove 
election news, the assassination of Mexico's president-elect, and 
a search for lost aviators in the Arctic off the front pages of the 
evening newspapers. 20 

So MUCH for spectator sports. Among the outdoor activities in 
which the public participated, hunting and fishing were still 
leaders. Almost twelve million licenses were being taken out 
annually for the field sports which had remained since colonial 
days in a class almost by themselves in American recreation. In- 
terested manufacturers claimed that over eight million men and 
women remained addicts of the ever-popular amusement of 
bowling, and there were tremendous numbers of softball players, 
trap-shooters (with the great popularity of skeet), and tennis- 
players. 21 But the businessman hero of the age had taken over 
golf in post-war America and made the game his own. It may 


have been played by fewer people, but it was the fashionable 
sports leader. 

In 1910 the number of courses scattered throughout the coun- 
try had already grown to several hundred, and there were an 
estimated half-million players. 22 Golf was no longer regarded 
as a fad. Its devotees had put away their red coats and leggings; 
they were seriously getting down to business. Champions on a 
par with those of England were showing the wayJerome D. 
Travis, Francis Ouimet, and W. C. Hagen. More than any other 
sport so far developed, golf appeared to be the answer to the 
middle-class need for outdoor exercise. Every year new links 
were built as the game's advantages became more widely known. 

The World War did not interrupt this movement. In 1916 
there were 743 courses, in 1930 a total of 5,856 a sevenfold in- 
crease in fourteen years. Every town of any size at all boasted at 
least one. The number of players had risen to two million. Nor 
was all this golf for the privileged. There were over twelve hun- 
dred daily-fee or public courses, and every year clerks and office- 
workers were taking up the game in greater numbers. 23 "The 
democracy of golf to-day," Grandand Rice wrote in 1928, "has 
gone far beyond that of any other sport/* 24 But for all the im- 
portance of these facts and figures, what gave golf its unique 
status was the sacred aura that clung about it. Every ambitious 
member of the white-collar class tried to follow his boss around 
the links. Golf was a fascinating sport, a healthful outdoor pas- 
time. It was also the ladder to business and social success in the 
extravagant days that accompanied the recovery from the im- 
mediate post-war depression. 

Certainly one of the most characteristic social manifestations 
of the 1920*$ was the ritual that grew up about this sport. Mem- 
bership in a country club became a first requisite for the social 
climber; to be able to play a good game was essential for the 
young man who wanted to get ahead. It was an era of baggy plus- 
fours, with tasseled wool stockings; of determined foursomes 
playing their eighteen-hole matches in a fiercely competitive 


spirit taken over directly from their business deals; of endless dis- 
cussions at "the nineteenth hole" about the latest exploits of 
Bobby Jones, the game's own superchampion. 

Women also took up golf. But they played during the week 
and retired gracefully to club verandahs for tea and bridge when 
Saturday afternoon brought out their husbands. Men's foursomes 
were the outstanding feature of country-club life, especially in 
the suburbs. The weekly handicap tournament was the great 
event to which hundreds of thousands of commuters looked for- 
ward from Monday to Saturday. There was no pretense of ob- 
serving the Sabbath the bicycle, motoring, and now golf had 
stripped it of all semblance of a day of rest. Church was for- 
gotten, the home neglected, wives deserted for the lure of the 

Golf was expensive. Membership in a club with its heavy out- 
lay for keeping up the course; caddy fees, clubs, and the constant 
replenishment of balls; all the paraphernalia of such a socially 
correct activity, resulted in more money being spent on the 
game than on any other sport. With a nation-wide investment in 
courses of $850,000,000, it was conservatively estimated in 1929 
that the country's golfers were paying $200,000,000 a year for the 
privilege of enjoying their favorite diversion. 25 

The depression had a devastating effect. Almost every club 
found itself with greatly reduced membership and many of them 
opened their onetime exclusive preserves to all comers. Some 
were forced to close. The end of the era of high-pressure 
salesmanship, when the stock broker and bond salesman had 
found the golf-course one of the most profitable fields of oper- 
ation, took something of the bloom off the ancient and honorable 
game. But its place in national life was too well established for 
it to lose its popularity despite its lessened value as an adjunct 
to business and social life. Public courses increased at the ex- 
pense of private clubs. In 1935 the total number of golfers was 
placed at a somewhat lower figure than six years earlier, but 
there were more players on municipal links. Golf had been 


socially deflated, and it was approaching closer to the demo- 
cratic ideal. 26 

Tennis also had made remarkable progress during these years, 
evolving into a game which bore little resemblance to that polite 
pastime of the 1890's which was considered so well adapted for 
ladies and gentlemen. It became more active, hard-hitting, and 
competitive. It was taken up by a continually broadening circle 
of players. As the champions of golf, and the publicity given 
their matches, served to promote that sport, tournament winners 
and Davis Cup players provided the ballyhoo for tennis. And in 
the 1920's William T. Tilden became as idolized as Babe Ruth 
or Bobby Jones. He was one of the era's bright galaxy of popular 

In costumes which would have horrified her Victorian fore- 
bears, the modern woman also played the new tennis. The glam- 
orous Suzanne Lenglen and phenomenal Helen Wills, short- 
skirted, bare-legged, developed a game which compared 
favorably with that of all but the greatest of the men players. 
Thousands of girls followed their lead. More important, they 
continued to play far past that age at which the ideal of "female 
delicacy" had once decreed embroidery and china-painting as 
the only approved pursuits for women, had placed the stamp of 
fashion on "the slender, and delicate, and fragile form the pale, 
sallow, and waxen complexion." 

Clubs affiliated with the United States Lawn Tennis Asso- 
ciation by no means afford a complete picture of what had hap- 
pened in the world of tennis. Their courts were only a fraction 
of a total which included those of country clubs, municipalities, 
and private owners. But their increase provides a key to the 
game's growing popularity. In 1910 there were 160 member clubs, 
and ten years later 294. The next decade saw this figure doubled, 
and by 1933 it was almost a thousand. The number of tennis- 
players had risen by the 1930's to some three or four millions, 
with about a quarter of the total representing players on public 
courts. 27 


A new sport that had a great boom in the 1930*8 was softball. 
It was a modified form of baseball the chief difference between 
the two games being adequately expressed in its name and its 
easier, more informal style of play attracted thousands of adults 
who left the original game to young men and boys. Softball 
teams were formed by groups representing every element in 
American society industrial workers and suburban commuters, 
church leaguers and employees of the New York Stock Exchange, 
members of fashionable country clubs and of local village or- 
ganizations. There were women players, in teams made up of 
business employees, Y.W.C.A. members, or factory operatives. 

The game had been known under various names for some time. 
It was being played as kitten ball in St. Paul about 1912, and in 
other places it was called indoor baseball, mush ball, or recrea- 
tion ball. But its boom followed the organization, in 1933, of the 
Amateur Softball Association of America* Through its promo- 
tional work, sponsorship of regional tournaments, and estab- 
lishment of an annual world series, softball became a craze which 
spread over the land much as had the earlier crazes for croquet, 
roller-skating, and bicycling. The Softball Association soon 
claimed a membership larger than that of any other amateur 
sports body in the world, and there were an estimated eight thou- 
sand diamonds in some eight hundred cities. In 1938 ten million 
people including a greater number of adult players than pos- 
sibly in any other sport were reported to have taken up the 
game. 28 

Industrial plants welcomed it as one of the most practical ways 
of promoting the nation-wide movement to provide outdoor 
exercise for employees. It was an outstanding symbol of the 
twentieth century's approach to recreation, of the recovery for 
factory-workers of the play opportunities they had so long been 
lacking. Softball was played on week-ends and holidays, at the 
lunch hour and after work, on flood-lighted diamonds during 
the evening. 

One of the most interesting developments in these years was 


Atlanta girls in ac- 
tion. Wide World 

College Basketball 

Gymnasium o the Univer- 
sity of California. Courtesy 
of the Associated Students 
News Bureau. 

Ski Tracks in the Rockies 

The ski-lift on Dollar Mountain, Sun Valley, Idaho. Courtesy of the Union 
Pacific Railroad. 

On the Beach 
at Coney Island 

A holiday crowd 

of bathers, sea and 

sun, in 1939. Wide 

World Photos. 


the rise of skiing. An old sport in northern Europe, it reached the 
United States by way of Norwegian settlers who organized the 
country's pioneer ski dub at Red Wing, Minnesota, in 1883. 29 It 
was not until half a century later, however, that it became a fad 
throughout the northern states, and especially New England, 
where a combination of snow and mountains made it an ideal 
winter sport. 

The revived interest in the out-of-doors was primarily re- 
sponsible for its sudden popularity people could have skied as 
well in earlier periods. But when about 1929 a few enthusiasts 
began preaching the gospel of the ski, a public which had hardly 
heard of the sport found itself carried away. The department 
stores installed borax slides and imported Austrian instructors; 
the railroads ran special trains to the skiing country and organ- 
ized week-end excursions. Quick to sense the unexpected gold 
in their snow-covered hills, fanners everywhere prepared to rent 
rooms and provide food for the city skiers who began to dot 
every good slope. A steadily growing band of fanatics hung on 
the week-end weather forecasts; argued furiously over waxes, 
bindings, and the merits of the stem Christy as against the tele- 
mark; and then went out to endanger life and limb in hazardous 
plunges down slope and trail. 

Skiing was a limited sport. It could be practised only in certain 
parts of the country, during a very short season of the year. And 
though it followed the usual course of gradually reaching a wider 
and wider public, the expense of equipment and transportation 
was another restrictive factor. Granted these limitations, its quick 
rise to a major winter sport nevertheless afforded still another 
striking illustration of how sport-conscious the country had be- 
come, how eager great numbers of people were to take part in 
sports as well as watch them. In 1930 there were only a handful 
of skiers in the United States, too few to consider in any survey 
of recreation. Before a decade had passed, such a holiday as 
Washington's Birthday found a quarter-million excursionists 
bound for the hills, and the total number of skiers throughout the 


country was estimated at two million. In such states as Vermont, 
New Hampshire, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Idaho (where one 
of the most elaborate ski centers in the world was established at 
Sun Valley by the Union Pacific Railroad), skiing had assumed 
formidable proportions. 30 

ALMOST all other sports underwent a tremendous expansion in 
the post-war years, only temporarily interrupted by the depres- 
sion. Sailing and boating had a new vogue a relative decline in 
yachting but great increase in motor-boating. The outboard mo- 
tor had opened up for thousands a recreation formerly far be- 
yond their means. It created an entirely new class of water 
enthusiasts, drawn in great part from those elements in society 
which a century earlier had lined city water-fronts to watch the 
regattas of the exclusive boating and yacht clubs. The outdoor 
movement drew campers, canoeists, hikers, and mountain- 
climbers into the country. Every summer saw the lakes and 
trails more crowded with young people discovering for them- 
selves that living in the open, sleeping in log huts or under 
canvas, and cooking before a camp-fire constituted one of the 
most satisfying contrasts to the indoor routine of city jobs. There 
were more fishing and hunting. An unusual revival caused several 
states to set aside special preserves for bow-and-arrow hunting. 

Horseback-riding, fox-hunting, and polo proved that though 
the horse might be passing in the commercial world, its r61e in 
the world of sports had become more important. With the de- 
mocracy taking over so many games, society fell back on these 
expensive activities for the assurance they provided of social 
status. It also took up flying somewhat as it once had motoring 
and automobile racing and aviation played the r61e of plutoc- 
racy's most exciting and expensive sport, 

Both lawn games and indoor games multiplied. Archery and 
croquet were revived. Field hockey flourished as a game for 
girls. Badminton was widely taken up, and squash, racquets and 


handball. Ping-pong flourished mightily in the new guise of table 
tennis. It was everywhere the same story. Even the traditional 
country pastime of horseshoe-pitching (although shuffleboard 
was reported to be taking its place in Florida) felt the quickening 
urge of the new sports enthusiasm: a National Horseshoe Pitchers 
Association was organized. 31 

Over everything else, from sheer weight of numbers, stood 
swimming and bathing. They were the great recreation of millions 
who did not take up games. The packed beaches of the 1920's 
and 1930's were a startling demonstration of the changes that 
had taken place since the nineteenth century. The modern bath- 
ing-suit (together with shorts and slacks) had a social significance 
which could be appreciated only in comparison with the shocked 
concern over mixed bathing "the parties always go into the 
water completely dressed" in the 1840's. It symbolized the new 
status of women even more than the short skirts and bobbed hair 
of the jazz age or the athleticism of the devotees of tennis and 
golf. It was the final proof of their successful assertion of the right 
to enjoy whatever recreation they chose, costumed according to 
the demands of the sport rather than the tabus of an outworn 
prudery, and to enjoy it in free and natural association with men. 

Here was an outdoor recreation more fully open to all classes 
of people men and women of whatever age, young people, and 
childrenthan any other. The two hundred million attendance at 
municipal bathing-beaches and swimming-pools (a total almost 
as large as that of the estimated yearly attendance at all spec- 
tator sports) did not by any means represent every one who 
bathed and swam. Their numbers were swelled by throngs of 
swimmers of which no count could possibly be taken. Neverthe- 
less, even this figure proves how universal a recreation it had 
become. As a result of changing fashions, a new social interest in 
recreation, and modern methods of transportation, the democ- 
racy had discovered in bathing and swimming a grand chance 
to affiliate with the open air. 


ANY ATTEMPT to survey sports in these years is bound to be in- 
adequate. This is implicit in the very fact that opportunities for 
play had so immeasurably increased in comparison with those of 
half a century or a quarter-century earlier. In the 1890*s the de- 
scription of the beginnings of half a dozen organized sports could 
afford a fair idea of this phase of national recreation. In the twen- 
tieth century there were innumerable sports. We have only 
touched on their development, skimmed the surface of outdoor 
activities. One could add soccer, lacrosse, volley-ball, fencing, 
rifle-shooting, motorcycling, toboganning, figure skating, ice-boat- 
ing, curling, gymnastics. . . . The sports activity of the American 
people was limitless. 


with the collapse of the stock market in the fall of 1929, 
faint voices might be heard asking where the dominance of the 
movies, the ballyhoo of sports, the successive crazes for so many 
other amusements, were leading the American people. The de- 
pression of the 1930's brought this question home with a new 
intensity. The further increase in leisure for the great majority of 
workers, caused partly by economic circumstance and partly by 
governmental action, suddenly awoke the country to the change 
that had come over old ideas on the relationship between work 
and play. We were fully launched on what James A. Garfield 
half a century earlier had said was the second great struggle of 
civilization 'What shall we do with our leisure when we get it?" 
For three centuries the American tradition had placed an 
emphasis on work which made it the chief purpose of existence. 
"Business to the American," an Englishman could write even in 
the 1920's, "is life's great adventure; it is sport, work, pleasure, 
beauty and patriotism rolled into one.* 7 x Puritanism had imposed 
a religious sanction on this concept. Idleness could have no place 
in a world where labor was the greatest good. But with the de- 
pression the revolutionary transformation wrought by the ma- 
chine could no longer be ignored. It had not only made leisure 
possible for the mass of people, but had imposed it upon them 
whether they wanted it or not. Boon or Pandora's box of new 
evils, there could be no escaping it. And since it was not in our 
nature to accept it easily, gratefully ("Pleasure does make us 
Yankees kind o' winch"), we examined it with some foreboding 



Leisure became, according to the dictates of our puritan in- 
heritance, not so much an opportunity as a problem. 

Despite labor agitation for shorter hours, leisure was primarily 
a by-product of industrialism rather than anything that had been 
consciously sought out. Little thought had been given to its ulti- 
mate value for the people as a whole through the hurrying years 
of economic progress. The reduction in hours of work had taken 
place almost automatically as the application of mechanical 
power enabled society to satisfy its normal needs in progressively 
less working time. This was generally true throughout the west- 
ern world, but the United States particularly was confronted by 
a condition and not a theory. 

The eight-hour day had come into general effect although there 
were, of course, many exceptions by the 1920's. Statistics for 
twenty-five forms of manufacture showed tihe average working- 
week in this country for both men and women to be forty-eight 
hours. 2 Shop and office employees fared even better with the 
more general adoption of both the Saturday half -holiday and the 
week's or two weeks' summer vacation. The further reduction in 
this time occasioned by the depression, with the demand for 
spreading out work and increasing employment, found a forty- 
hour week suddenly becoming the almost general rule. A full 
working-day was lopped off through the terms of the National 
Industrial Recovery Act, and even after the N.R.A. had collapsed, 
further legislation maintained this shorter working-week as a 
national objective. Never before had there been such an effective 
decrease in labor's average working time, considering the coun- 
try as a whole, in so brief a period. 

The average industrial worker at the close of the 1930's en- 
joyed the equivalent of almost a full day more of weekly leisure 
than he had had prior to the depression. In comparison with 
conditions in the 1890's, he had more than twice as much time 
free for recreational activities. Over the course of a century, pre- 
vailing hours of labor had been halved and available leisure was 
estimated to have increased from about ten hours weekly to some 


seventy. It was a startling development whose social significance 
could hardly be overestimated. 3 

Since the industrial revolution no people had ever had so much 
time for other things besides earning a livelihood. Civilizations of 
the past had had many non-working days, more than is generally 
realized. In Egypt holidays are said to have amounted to one- 
fifth the number of days in the year; there were from fifty to 
sixty days of festival in Greece; and in Rome almost a third of 
the days in the year were considered "unlucky" for work. 4 But 
t^e factory system had spelled the end of such frequent holidays 
and for long imposed just as many hours of daily labor as the 
ancient world had known. Now at last, however, the masses en- 
joyed a measure of weekly leisure which more than made up 
for the non-working days and festivals of an earlier age. 

The implications of these developments had been seriously 
discussed long before the reduction from a forty-eight-hour week 
to a forty-hour week. The experience of the depression years, 
however, dramatized the situation as never before. The "chal- 
lenge of the new leisure" became a vital issue. Under such cir- 
cumstances recreation could no longer be dismissed as a waste of 
time or harmless diversion. It could no longer be considered only 
a means to restore the capacity to work part of that endless circle 
wherein one worked to gain the opportunity to play and played 
to be able to work more effectively. It became for perhaps the 
first time in American history something which was represented 
as a possible good in itself. The psychologist wrote of the value 
of play as an instinctive form of self-expression and emotional 
escape-valve; the sociologist stressed its importance in counter- 
acting ill health, mental instability, and crime in the urban com- 
munity. 5 

'The value of leisure-time activities, play and recreation," 
wrote George A. Lundberg, "is usually conceded to lie in the 
nervous release which they afford from the customary and co- 
ercive activities which the social order imposes upon us. To the 
extent, therefore, that the pursuits of our leisure-time tend to 


become organized under conventional patterns determined by 
competitive consumption they lose their unique and primary 
value as recreation and so become merely another department of 
activity devoted to the achievement of prestige or status," 6 

The scientific pack was in full cry; There was a sudden 
burgeoning of committees to study leisure-time activities and of 
organizations to promote healthful community play. The church 
intensified its efforts to meet the challenge of commercial amuse- 
ments, and industry undertook to promote the recreation of its 
employees along the lines it considered most socially useful. As 
a phase of the general program for social security, the New Deal 
reenforced the efforts already being made by municipalities to 
enable city workers to take part in a broad field of diversions 
ranging from handball to folk-dancing. It paid out through the 
W.P.A., as already noted, hundreds of millions of dollars for 
parks, playgrounds, and recreation centers. 

Here was a complete departure from that earlier tradition 
which had found church and state allied in condemning leisure 
and amusements. No laws were being passed in the 1930's in 
detestation of idleness. The energy and resources of the state 
were employed to implement it. Recognition of a responsibility 
to promote work had been translated into a responsibility to 
make leisure worth while. 

ECONOMIC CONSIDERATIONS affected the changed status of leisure 
in otter ways. It was not only that the reduction in hours of labor 
necessary to produce the goods the people needed had auto- 
matically created more free time, or that the efficient working of 
the factory system demanded healthful recreation to offset the 
strain of more intensified work. Our whole economy was geared 
to a necessary consumption of leisure-time goods. The working 
of the industrial plant had become dependent upon people hav- 
ing the time, and the money, to spend on the commercialized 
amusements which were the machine age's answer to recreational 


needs. A large part of our economic activity was the provision of 
entertainment for the laboring masses. Millions of people were 
employed in providing amusements for their fellow-workers. 

It has been conservatively estimated (many studies giving 
much higher figures) that the American people spent in 1935 
more than eight per cent of their entire income on recreation. 
The total was something over $4,000,000,000. This was a decline 
of approximately one-third from the total for 1929, but it was 
proportionately greater than ever before in our history. The ratio, 
indeed, was just twice that of a quarter of a century earlier. 
Vacation travel, dominated by the immense sums spent on auto- 
mobile touring, accounted for more than half this figure. The 
remainder was divided almost equally between commercial 
amusements and so-called recreational products. Motion pictures 
were far and away the principal item among commercial amuse- 
ments, but they also included legitimate theatres, amusement 
parks, billiard parlors and bowling-alleys, public dance-halls, and 
all spectator sports. Recreational products comprised radios, the 
lighter books and periodicals, musical instruments, motor boats, 
games, and all sporting goods and equipment. 7 

These expenditures afford graphic evidence of how accustomed 
the American democracy had become to digging deep down into 
its pocket for its amusements. The relative rise in their ratio to 
national income through the depression years is startling proof of 
the commercial aspect of popular recreation. The country as a 
whole appeared every year more willing to buy entertainment, 
even though it must have meant in countless instances the sacri- 
fice of other things that might normally seem more important. 
The spirit that induced so many workingmen to give up almost 
anything else before they let the automobile go was reflected on 
a broader scale in the whole field of popular diversion. 

The large sums recorded by these figures are also impressive 
in their bearing on the r61e of commercial amusements in na- 
tional production. That part of the automobile industry which 
may be statistically allocated to the pleasure use of cars, the mo- 


tion-picture industry, and the radio industry stand out from the 
point of view of both value of products and employment as three 
of America's leading industrial activities. When all other branches 
of popular entertainment and the economic activities directly 
dependent upon them are included, the amusement industry as 
a whole is seen to take its place as an essential cog in the working 
of the industrial plant as developed during the twentieth cen- 

If the impossible had happened in the 1930's, if the country 
had somehow gone back and accepted Puritan concepts of the 
evil inherent in all amusements, the resulting dislocation in the 
industries providing popular entertainment would have thrown 
the entire economic system out of gear. Millions of men and 
women would have suddenly found themselves without jobs or 
means of support. No movies, no automobile touring, no radio, no 
professional sports the country could hardly have survived! 
Even the revival of the Puritan Sabbath, with effective blue laws 
forbidding all Sunday amusements, would have had economic 
repercussions throwing an army of workers out of employment. 

ANOTHER ASPECT of recreation under the conditions imposed by 
the new leisure was its social effects. As any observer of the 
American scene could easily have foretold, surveys of recreation 
in the 1930's invariably showed that the radio, movies, and mo- 
toring were the most popular and most frequently enjoyed of all 
diversions. The more simple, unsophisticated leisure-time 
activities of the home still continued. In point of fact, the forced 
economies of the depression period introduced a new informality 
into social life for many people and threw others to a greater ex- 
tent on their own resources for entertainment than they had been 
in many years. Some of the surveys revealed that people actually 
spent more time visiting with their friends than going to the 
movies. The art of conversation may have died, but people still 
talked. Nevertheless, almost every questionnaire provided further 


confirmation that the great amount of time spent by the entire 
family on machine-made amusements was one of the most signifi- 
cant aspects of contemporary life. 8 

"How does the American adult spend his leisure time?" asked 
one magazine writer in 1937, who then went on to answer his own 
question without benefit of scientific surveys. "The chances are 
eight to ten that he will drive his car along Route 168, watch a 
'moom* picture,, listen to the Itty Bitty Kiddie Hour, or else enjoy 
a few inches in the bleachers while some one on the field plays 
for him." 8 

These new amusements pulled in many different directions. 
In almost every instance in which the influence of commercial- 
ized entertainment could be held unwholesome, almost as good 
a case could be made out to quite the opposite effect. The movies 
tended to disrupt family life, but the radio kept people at home. 
Motoring took away from lawn games and informal back-yard 
sports; it also opened up larger opportunities for more ambitious 
outdoor activities. Together these machine amusements led to 
the decline of many traditional diversions of the small town and 
countryside. Lodge night, the church social, the Grange picnic, 
and even the country fair lost something of their old glory, but 
so did the pool-room, the beer-parlor, the burlesque show, and 
the shady entertainment palace of metropolis. There was less 
family-group recreation, but more for the individual regardless 
of age or sex. A proper balance could not easily be struck in 
evaluating the change in recreational patterns. The radio's in- 
cessant blare brought Beethoven as well as the Jazztown Rubes 
to its nation-wide audience; the movies offered their millions 
Withering Heights as well as Sinners in Silk. If conditions of 
urban life still placed a premium on passive indoor amusements, 
there was the underlying trend (which the radio and the movies 
often themselves promoted) toward a wider participation in 
sports than the country had ever known before. 

With modern inventions every one heard the same tunes at 
the same time over the radio, saw the same movies from coast 


to coast. Because of the ballyhoo of the entertainment industry, 
the public took up the same fads and fancies. It played mah-jong 
one year and miniature golf the next. The American people, it 
was often charged, were being so closely regimented in their 
amusements that individuality was doomed. Even for this some- 
thing might be said on the ground that recreation had become 
a great unifying force among a very heterogeneous people, an 
instrument to promote national solidarity at a time when the 
bonds of church and state had lost their old strength. But how 
real was this alleged regimentation in comparison with other days 
or other lands? Its evils were most emphasized by representa- 
tives of the class whose leisure and income had always enabled 
them to enjoy a relatively wide variety of pleasures. Uncon- 
sciously, perhaps, they resented the fact that they could no longer 
maintain an exclusive hold on their amusements. It was disturb- 
ing that the new sport could no longer be restricted to the more 
genteel elements of society, that every fad should be taken up so 
quickly by the people as a whole. 

For the common man the radio, the movies, and the auto- 
mobile represented recreational opportunities he had never had 
before. The successive crazes for sports and games introduced 
a diversity into his life that it had completely lacked. And for 
him the pattern of these regimented amusements was so complex 
in comparison with the simple and actually far more uniform 
diversions of an earlier day that the laments of the sophisticated 
were incomprehensible. The popularity of an infinite number of 
hobbies and special interests also seemed to show that individ- 
uality had by no means been wholly engulfed in mass entertain- 
ment. Millions might listen simultaneously to Bing Crosby or the 
Singing Lady, crowd the theatres to see Andy Hardy Gets Spring 
Fever, or spend Sunday afternoon motoring in a staggering pro- 
cession of identical sedans, but vast numbers also grew prize 
dahlias, played on softball teams, collected stamps, went to 
legitimate theatres or concert-halls, played checkers and chess, 
raced outboard motor-boats, worked at amateur carpentry, went 


on camping trips in the woods, took up bridge, flute-playing, or 

No other country, and no other age, had ever had a wider 
choice of amusements open to the mass of the people. It was over- 
whelming. Science and the machine had reshaped the traditional 
patterns of recreation into hundreds of new forms. Working men 
and working women factory operatives, plumbers, waitresses, 
bank clerks, telephone operators, farm-hands, stenographers, 
storekeepers, nurse-maids, subway guards, mill-hands, garment- 
workers, office-boys, truck-driversfound countless pleasures 
once limited to the privileged few were now theirs for the seek- 
ing. The democracy had come into its heritage. It had achieved 
both leisure and the facilities for its enjoyment. 

DESPITE the demands made for a greater measure of control over 
popular amusements, the American people continued in the 
1930's to maintain the laissez-faire attitude which was felt to be 
the essence of democracy. Except in so far as Government under- 
took to provide the increased opportunities for play that it was 
now felt the community owed its citizens, there was no legis- 
lative interference with recreation. It was not officially ordered 
to promote industrial efficiency, to bind the people to any 
political system, or to prepare the country for war. The example 
of the totalitarian states was not followed. Opportunity, not com- 
pulsion, symbolized the American way. The wishes of the in- 
dividual were not sacrificed to the supposed interests of the State, 
and the theory was generally maintained that public opinion 
alone should be the arbiter of recreation's r61e in the national 
life. If its standards were to be raised, it could be done only 
through popular education. 

Such an attitude seemed implicit in the ideals on which Ameri- 
can society was based. In an age in which they were being 
threatened from so many quarters, here was another challenge 
to everything for which democracy stood. 



so voluminous that the following bibliographical notes represent 
only a tentative and very limited guide to the essential sources. There 
is no encompassing a field which includes laws on colonial and state 
statute-books, the journals of travelers throughout our history, diaries 
and autobiographies, newspapers and magazines (their advertisements 
as well as their news columns), and all extant sports guides, books of 
games, theatre playbills and programs, circus posters, and general 
amusement broadsides. It is possible here only to indicate the sources 
that the present author has found especially useful. 

For books dealing with special phases of recreation there are a 
few helpful bibliographies. Robert W. Henderson has compiled a 
chronological check-list of books on sports published prior to 1860, 
Early American Sports (New York, 1937); and C. M. Van Sockun? a 
more general bibliography for 1890-1912, Sport (New York, 1914). 
Blanch M. Baker, Dramatic Bibliography (New York, 1933), is useful 
for the theatre, and Leonidas Westervelt, The Circus in Literature 
(New York, 1931), for the circus. The various volumes in A History of 
American Life edited by A. M. Schlesinger and D. R. Fox ( 12 vols., 
in progress, New York, 1927) have bibliographical sections on amuse- 
ments; and the Russell Sage Foundation has issued two selective bibli- 
ographies on modern recreation Bulletin 151, compiled by Grace P. 
Thornton, and Bulletin 156, compiled by M. P. Williams. Finally, note 
should be made of the monthly lists of books on this topic in the 
magazine Recreation, published by the National Recreation Associa- 

An extensive specialized literature on both the theatre and sports 
is available, but the only comprehensive attempts to portray the entire 
theatrical scene are O. S. Goad and Edwin Mims, Jr., The American 
Stage in The Pageant of America, Vol. XIV (New Haven, 1929), 
Arthur A. Hornblow, History of the American Theatre (2 vols., Phila- 
delphia, 1919), and John Anderson, The American Theatre (New 
York, 1938); while the only inclusive history of sports is John A. 
Krout, Annals of American Sport in The Pageant of America, Vol. XV 



(New Haven, 1929), A more recent study in this field designed for 
student use should also be mentioned, R. B. Weaver, Amusements and 
Sports in American Life (Chicago, 1939), but here again the field is 
more limited than that which the present book attempts to cover. All 
these books have lists of sources, and though the following notes are 
somewhat more comprehensive, it should again be emphasized that 
they constitute an arbitrary and highly selective bibliography which 
makes no pretense of including all available material. 


The most important primary source on recreation is newspapers and 
periodicals. Scattered notices in the colonial papers afford such evi- 
dence as is available on the beginnings of the theatre, and, in the 
first half of the nineteenth century advertisements are still the most 
valuable clue for all commercial entertainment. The rise of organized 
sports may also best be traced through newspaper columns and maga- 
zine articles. After 1850 this material becomes voluminous, and by 
the close of the century the special theatre and sports sections have 
come into being. Through its r61e as a center for amusements, the 
papers of New York are perhaps most valuable, with the Tribune and 
the Herald providing the most readily available sources. Those of 
other cities also reflect the changing scene, however, while small- 
town papers throughout the country throw a revealing light through 
their local notices on the character of non-commercial entertainment. 

The first important magazine to be devoted to amusements (al- 
though it had been preceded by The American Turf Register, founded 
in 1829) was The Spirit of the Times, a Chronicle of the Turf, Field 
Sports, Literature and the Stage. It was established in 1835 and was 
variously known as Porter's Spirit of the Times and Wilkes' Spirit of 
the Times. The National Police Gazette (1845) also dealt with 
amusements, and The New York Clipper (1853) was the first exclu- 
sively sporting journal. Through these magazines more than in any 
other way the early beginnings of commercial amusements and or- 
ganized sports may be traced. Outing, first called The Wheelman, 
was established in 1882 and gave more attention to amateur sports, 
Many other magazines devoted to athletics now sprang up (see Frank 
Luther Mott, A History of American Magazines, 5 vols., in progress, 
New York and Cambridge, 1930- ), and as early as ,1887 this group 
of periodicals included The Ball Players' Chronicle, Sports and Games, 
Sporting Life, The American Angler, The American Canoeist, The 


American Cricketeer, Bicycle World, The Mirror of Sports, Field and 
Streamy Sporting Life. , . . By the twentieth century their number is 

The most useful journal devoted to the theatre, after mid-nineteenth 
century, was The New Jork Dramatic Mirror, founded in 1879. It 
carried full reports of theatrical activities throughout the country, 
with extensive lists of shows on the road. Many publications devoted 
to the stage have subsequently been established, ranging from The- 
atre Arts Monthly to Variety. 

Articles on various phases of recreation are also found after 1850 
in almost every magazine published. The most useful are the illus- 
trated weeklies, notably Harpers Weekly, Frank Leslies Illustrated 
Newspaper, and Gleasons 'Pictorial and Drawing-Room Companion. 
Among the monthlies occasional articles were published in The At- 
lantic Monthly, Harper's, Scribners, Godey's Lady's Book, Century, 
and The North American Review. In later years such material is often 
most conveniently found in The Literary Digest, but the files of such 
magazines as The Saturday Evening Post, Collier's, The American 
Magazine, McClure's, The Ladies" Home Journal, The American 
Mercury, and Country Life yield much information that cannot be 
found elsewhere. 

The appended chapter notes will show more adequately where the 
material for the present book has been gathered. In addition to the 
magazines noted, its sources have ranged from an article on trolley 
parks in The Street Railway Review to a study of church entertain- 
ment in The Forum, from a description of parlor games in Good 
Housekeeping to an analysis of "the recreational dollar" in Business 


Among the scattered primary sources for colonial recreation a few 
contemporary diaries and travel journals stand out with special promi- 
nence. Samuel Sewall, Diary, Massachusetts Historical Society Collec- 
tions, Ser. 5, Vols. V-VII, 1878-82 (also available in abridged form, 
edited by Mark Van Doren, New York, 1927), is invaluable for New 
England in the period from 1674 through 1729, and for the latter half 
of the eighteenth century the diaries of John Adams, in Works, II 
(Boston, 1850) ; John Quincy Adams, in Life in a New England Town 
(Boston, 1903); Nathaniel Ames, in Jacobin and Junto (Charles 
Warren, editor, Cambridge, 1931), and Joseph Bennett, in Proceed- 
ings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 1861. An interesting 


New York diary is John Sharp, A Journal of My Life-Exteriour, in 
Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, XL (1916), while 
an incomparable source for recreation on a southern plantation is 
Philip Vickers Fithian, Journal and Letters (Princeton, 1900). There 
is also some account of southern amusements in such sources as Wil- 
liam ByrcTs The History of the Dividing Line (Richmond, 1866) and 
The Diaries of George Washington (4 vols., Boston, 1925). 

Among many travel accounts of the eighteenth century, the most 
useful for recreation are John Bernard, Retrospections of America 
1797-1811 (New York, 1887); Andrew Burnaby, Travels Through 
the Middle Settlements in North-America (London, 1775); Marquis 
de ChasteUux, Travels in North America (New York, 1827); Captain 
Francis Goelet, Journal, in New England Historical and Genealogical 
Register, XXIV (1870); Dr. Alexander Hamilton, Itinerarium (edited 
by A. B. Hart, St Louis, 1907); Hugh Jones, The Present State of 
Virginia (London, 1724; reprinted New York, 1865); Sarah Kemble 
Knight, Private Journal (Albany, 1865); and Henry Wansey, An 
Excursion to the United States (Salisbury, 1798). 

There is a wealth of secondary sources. Interest in how the early 
settlers lived has always been so great that recreation in the colonial 
era has received more adequate treatment than in any other period 
until the twentieth century. Among general social histories some 
material has been brought together, although very briefly, in such 
books as Charles M. Andrews, Colonial Folkways in Chronicles of 
America, VI (New Haven, 1918); Thomas J. Wertenbaker, The First 
Americans in A History of American Life, II (New York, 1929) ; and 
James Truslow Adams, Provincial Society in A History of American 
Life, III (New York, 1936). More useful are a number of books deal- 
ing with specialized topics. A highly selective list would include 
Philip Alexander Bruce, Social Life in Virginia in the Seventeenth 
Century (Richmond, 1907); Mary N. Stannard, Colonial Virginia 
(Philadelphia, 1917); Robert M. Lawrence, New England Colonial 
Life (Cambridge, 1927); Mary Caroline Crawford, Social Life in Old 
New England (Boston, 1914); George Francis Dow, Every Day Life 
in the Massachusetts Bay Colony (Boston, 1935); Esther Singleton, 
Social New York Under the Georges (New York, 1902); Sydney 
George Fisher, Men, Women and Manners in Colonial Times (2 vols., 
Philadelphia, 1898); and, with even more marked attention to recrea- 
tion as revealed in contemporary sources, the various books of Alice 
Morse Earle: Colonial Days in Old New York (New York, 1896), 
Colonial Dames and Goodwives (Boston, 1895), Home Life in Co- 


lonial Days (New York, 1898), and Child Life in Colonial Days 
(New York, 1899). 

For amusements in the cities, apart from books dealing specifically 
with the theatre which are listed under that topic, there is also inter- 
esting material, among other local histories, in Martha J. Lamb, His- 
tory of the City of New York (2 vok, New York, 1877) ; James Grant 
Wilson, The Memorial History of New York (3 vok., New York, 
1893); J. F. Watson, Annals of New York (Philadelphia, 1846); J. 
Thomas Scharf and Thompson Westcott, History of Philadelphia (3 
vok, Philadelphia, 1884); J. F. Watson, Annals of Philadelphia 
(Philadelphia, 1857); Lyon G. Tyler, Williamsburg (Richmond, 
1907); E. S. Riley, The Ancient City (Annapolis, 1887); Justin Win- 
sor, Memorial History of Boston (3 vok, Boston, 1880-81); and Carl 
Bridenbaugh, Cities in the Wilderness (New York, 1939), 

Note may also be made, among still more special studies, of Ed- 
ward Field, The Colonial Tavern (Providence, 1897); Walter Tittle, 
Colonial Holidays (New York, 1910); and Richardson Wright, 
Hawkers and Walkers in Early America (Philadelphia, 1927). 


An important source of the nineteenth century that deserves special 
mention is the host of travel books of that period. Apart from news- 
paper and magazine material, such revealing diaries as that of Philip 
Hone (edited by Allan Nevins, 2 vok, New York, 1927), or such 
occasional descriptive records as Emerson Davis, The Half Century 
(Boston, 1851); Timothy Dwight, Travels in New England (4 vok, 
London, 1823); Anne RoyaH, Sketches of History, Life and Manners 
of the United States (New Haven, 1826); and George Makepeace 
Towle, American Society (2 vok, London, 1870), the impressionistic 
travel journals published by English visitors to the United States 
between 1820 and 1860 provide the clearest picture of the recrea- 
tional scene in those years. They are most conveniently listed in 
Allan Nevins (editor), American Social History as Recorded by British 
Travellers (New York, 1923), but a few of the most helpful for this 
special topic may be singled out. 

Such a specialized list would include W. E. Baxter, America and 
the Americans (London, 1855); Alfred Bunn, Old England and New 
England (2 vok, London, 1853); George Combe, Notes on the 
United States (3 vok, Edinburgh, 1841); Charles Dickens, American 
Notes (London, 1842); Emily Faithfull, Three Visits to America 


(Edinburgh, 1884); James Flint, Letters from America (Edinburgh, 
1822); Thomas Colley Grattan, Civilized America (2 vols., London, 
1859) ; Francis J. Grund, The Americans (Boston, 1837) ; Francis Hall, 
Travels in Canada and the United States (London, 1818); Basil 
Hall, Travels in North America (3 vols., London, 1829); Mrs. Basil 
Hall, The Aristocratic Journey (New York, 1931); Thomas Hamilton, 
Men and Manners (2 vols., Philadelphia, 1833); Frances Anne Kem- 
ble, Journal (2 vols., Philadelphia, 1835); Charles Lyell, Travels in 
North America (2 vols., New York, 1852); Alexander Mackay, The 
Western World (3 vols., London, 1850); Harriet Martineau, Society 
in America (3 vols., London, 1838); Captain Frederick Marryat, A 
Diary in America (2 vols., Philadelphia, 1839); T. L. Nichols, Forty 
Years of American Life (London, 1874); James Stuart, Three Years 
in North America (2 vols., London, 1833); Frances M. Trollope, 
Domestic Manners of the Americans (2 vols., London, 1832); and 
Frances Wright D'Arusmont, Views of Society and Manners in Amer- 
ica (New York, 1821). 

A number of French travel accounts also (for bibliography see 
Frank Monaghan, French Travellers in the United States, 17 65-1982, 
New York, 1933) are useful for the early nineteenth century: Michael 
Chevalier, Society, Manners and Politics in the United States (Boston, 
1839); AchiUe Murat, A Moral and Political Sketch of the United 
States (London, 1833); Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America 
(1834-41) (2 vols., Boston, 1876); and, somewhat later, Paul Blouet 
(Max O'Rell), Jonathan and His Continent (New York, 1884); Paul 
de Rousiers, American Life (New York, 1892); and S. C. de Soisson, 
A Parisian in America (Boston, 1896). 


Apart from scattered newspaper notices, contemporary records of 
the theatre are not generally available until after 1800. For subse- 
quent years there are many extensive collections of play bills, theatre 
programs, and other memorabilia, two of the largest being the Har- 
vard University Collection and the Robinson Locke Collection of 
Dramatic Scrapbooks in the New York Public Library. Among books 
the most important primary sources for the early nineteenth century 
are William Dunlap, History of the American Theatre (London, 
1833); William B. Wood, Personal Recollections of the Stage (Phila- 
delphia, 1855); Joseph Norton Ireland, Records of the New York 
Stage, 1750-1860 (2 vols., New York, 1866-67); William W. Clapp, 


A Record of the Boston Stage (Boston, 1853); N. M. Ludlow, Dra- 
matic Life as I Found It (St. Louis, 1880); and Sol Smith, Theatrical 
Management in the West and South -for Thirty Years (New York, 
1868). They are supplemented by a number of autobiographies, 
among which the more important are William Davidge, Footlight 
Flashes (New York, 1867); The Autobiography of Joseph Jeferson 
(New York, 1889); Anna C. Mowatt (Mrs. A. C. Ritchie), Autobiog- 
raphy of an Actress (Boston, 1853); Tyrone Power, Impressions of 
America (2 vols., London, 1836); Olive Logan, Apropos of Women 
and the Theatre (New York, 1869); James E. Murdoch, The Stage 
(Philadelphia, 1880); and the journal of Harry Watkins (One Man 
in His Time), edited by Maud and Otis Skinner (Philadelphia, 1938). 

Primary sources for the second half of the nineteenth century em- 
brace the complete records of the stage now available in newspapers 
and magazines, an increasing number of autobiographies, and the 
reminiscences of several well-known critics. An even more selective 
list of books covering these years would include Lester Wallack, 
Memories of Fifty Years (New York, 1889); Daniel Frohman, Me- 
moirs of a Manager (Garden City, 1911); John Rankin Towse, Siocty 
Years of the Theatre (New York, 1916); Henry Austin Clapp, Remi- 
niscences of a Dramatic Critic (Boston, 1902); William Winter, The 
Wallet of Time (2 vols., New York, 1916); E. H. Sothern, The 
Melancholy Tale of Me (New York, 1910); De Wolfe Hopper, Once 
a Clown Always a Clown (Boston, 1927); and George M, Cohan, 
Twenty Years on Broadway (New York, 1925). 

Modern writers have treated the history of the theatre from every 
possible angle. Its beginnings in colonial America are traced in 
Charles P. Daly, First Theatre in America, Dunlap Society Pub- 
lications, New Series, No. I (New York, 1896); Eola Willis, The 
Charleston Stage in the Eighteenth Century (Columbia, 1924); Paul 
Leicester Ford, Washington and the Theatre, Dunlap Society Pub- 
lications, New Series, No. VIII (New York, 1899); George O. Seil- 
hammer, The History of the American Theatre (3 vols,, Philadelphia, 
1888-91), an ambitious project which carries the story only through 
the eighteenth century. The development of the theatre through the 
years, as already noted, is the subject of such general histories as 
those by Arthur A. Hornblow, O. S. Coad and Edwin Mims, Jr., and 
John Anderson. Other specialized studies include A. H. Quinn, His- 
tory of the American Drama (2 vols., New York, 1927); Montrose J. 
Moses and John Mason Brown, The American Theatre as Seen by Its 
Critics 17S2-1934 (New York, 1934); R. C. Dimmick, Our Theatre 


Today and Yesterday (New York, 1913); Mary C. Crawford, The 
Romance of the American Theatre (Boston, 1925); Lawrence Hutton, 
Curiosities of the American Stage (London, 1891); Constance Rourke, 
Troupers of the Gold Coast (New York, 1928); Norman Hapgood, 
The Stage in America 1897-1900 (New York, 1901); W. L. Phelps, 
The Twentieth Century Theatre (New York, 1918); O. M. Sayles, 
Our American Theatre (New York, 1913) ; Sheldon Cheney, The New 
Movement in the Theatre (New York, 1914) ; Albert McCleery and 
Carl Click, Curtains Going Up (New York, 1939); Esther C. Dunn, 
Shakespeare in America (New York, 1939). 

Possibly more important are a number of local histories of the 
theatre. Foremost among such books, and an invaluable source for the 
period it covers, is the monumental work of George C. D. Odell, 
Annds of the New York Stage, of which the ten volumes already 
published (New York, 1927) carry the story through 1875. Two 
interesting volumes on the Philadelphia stage are valuable for that 
city: Reese D. James, Old Drury of Philadelphia (Philadelphia, 1932), 
and Arthur H. Wilson, A History of the Philadelphia Theatre, 183S 
to 18SS (Philadelphia, 1935). There are also Eugene Tompkins and 
Quincy Kilby, History of the Boston Theatre (Boston, 1908); H. P. 
Phelps, Players of a Century (Albany, 1880); George O. Willard, 
History of the Providence Stage, 1762-1891 (Providence, c. 1891); 
Douglas L. Hunt, "The Nashville Theatre," Birmingham-Southern 
College Bulletin, XXVIII, No. 3 (1935); and, for the St. Louis stage, 
William G. B. Carson, The Theatre on the Frontier (Chicago, 1932). 

A few of the more important biographical studies may also be men- 
tioned. They include Montrose J. Moses, Famous Actor Families in 
America (New York, 1906); Lewis C. Strang, Players and Plays of 
the Last Quarter Century (2 vols., Boston, 1903); Montrose J. Moses, 
The Fabulous Forrest (Boston, 1929); Asa B. Clarke, The Elder and 
Younger Booth (Boston, 1882); Leota S. Driver, Fanny Kemble 
(Chapel Hill, 1933); Francis Joseph Daly, The Life of Augustin Daly 
(New York, 1917); William Winter, The Life and Art of Joseph 
Jefferson (New York, 1914). 


The opera and the concert platform have their own literature, but 
as they have not received extended treatment in the text, the following 
books alone are noted as outlining their general development: O. G. 
Sonneck, Early Opera in America (Boston, 1915), and Early Concert- 


Life in America (Leipzig, 1907); Henry C. Lahee, Annals of Musio 
in America (Boston, 1922); Louis C. Elson, The History of American 
Music (New York, 1925); John T. Howard, Our American Music 
(New York, 1931); Henry E. Krehbiel, Chapters of Opera (New 
York, 1909); and Irving Kolodin, The Metropolitan Opera (New 
York, 1936). 

Material on minstrelsy is largely scattered through the contemporary 
magazines, but it has also had its historians. Carl Wittke, Tambo and 
Bones (Durham, N. C., 1930), and Dailey Pasfcman and Sigmund 
Spaeth, "Gentlemen, Be Seated!" (New York, 1928), are the two 
leading books on this topic, but the subject is also taken up in Francis 
Pendleton Gaines, The Southern Plantation (New York, 1924), while 
John Tasker Howard has written an interesting biography of min- 
strelsy's greatest composer, Stephen Foster, America's Troubadour 
(New York, 1934), 

Source material for the variety stage and circus is found in a num- 
ber of autobiographies. Outstanding among them is the autobiography 
of P. T. Barnum, first issued as The Life of P. T. Barnum, Written by 
Himself (New York, 1855). Other such books include Gil Robinson, 
Old Wagon Shows Days (Cincinnati, 1925); W. C. Coup, Sawdust 
and Spangles (Chicago, 1901); J. J. Jennings, Theatrical and Circus 
Life (Chicago, 1893); Ralph Keeler, Vagabond Adventures (Boston, 
1872); and M. B. Leavitt, Fifty Years in Theatrical Management 
(New York, 1912). 

These forms of commercial entertainment have not received from 
modern writers comparable treatment to that given the theatre 
although Professor Odell includes all entertainment in his Annals of 
the New York Stage. For the origins of the American circus, however, 
a valuable compilation of early notices is R. W. G. Vail, "Random 
Notes on the History of the Early American Circus," Proceedings of 
the American Antiquarian Society , April, 1933 (reprint, Worcester, 
1934). Leonidas Westervelt has also gathered together some of this 
material in The Circus in Literature (New York, 1931). Another com- 
parable book, although it carries the story only through 1835, is Isaac 
J. Greenwood, The Circus (New York, 1898), while a more general 
account is Earl Chapin May, The Circus pom Rome to Ringling (New 
York, 1932). There is also much material on this subject in M. R. 
Werner, Barnum (New York, 1927). 

The development of the variety stage is discussed in Caroline Coffin, 
Vaudeville (New York, 1914), and that of burlesque in Bernard Sobel, 
Burleycue (New York, 1931). 



Contemporary accounts of the amusements of the pioneers are 
found in a number of travel books. A valuable compilation of such 
journals, carefully indexed, is Reuben Gold Thwaites, Early Western 
Travels 1748-1846 (32 vols., Cleveland, 1907). A highly selective list 
of other primary sources would include John James Audubon, De- 
lineations of American Scenery and Character (1834), (New York, 
1926); H. M. Brackenridge, Recollections of Persons and Places in the 
Far West (Philadelphia, 1868); Peter Cartwright, Autobiography 
(New York, 1857); The Life of Davy Crockett, Written by Himself 
(Philadelphia, 1860); Joseph Doddridge, Notes on the Settlement 
and Indian Wars (Albany, 1876); Timothy Flint, Recollections of 
the Last Ten Years (Boston, 1826); James B. Finley, Autobiography 
(Cincinnati, 1854); Baynard Rush Hall, The New Purchase (New 
York, 1855); James Hall, Sketches of History, Life and Manners in 
the West (2 vols,, Philadelphia, 1835); William H. Milburn, The 
Rifle, Axe and Saddle-Bags (New York, 1857). For the West of a 
somewhat later period (the prairie states) there are many records, but 
among them all one stands out with special prominence Hamlin 
Garland, A Son of the Middle Border (New York, 1917). And it is 
best supplemented by the same author's Boy Life on the Prairie (New 
York, 1899). 

Among secondary accounts of frontier life, Everett Dick, The Sod- 
House Frontier, 1854-1890 (New York, 1937); Bessie Louise Pierce, 
A History of Chicago, Vol. I (New York, 1937); Thomas D. Clark, 
The Rampaging Frontier (Indianapolis, 1939); Bernard De Voto, 
Mark Twain's America (Boston, 1932), and E. E. Calkins, They 
Broke the Prairie (New York, 1937), take up recreation and amuse- 
ments in considerable detail. 

For the Far West, Samuel L. Clemens (Mark Twain), Roughing 
It (2 vols., New York, 1899), is a classic. Some account of amuse- 
ments is found also in such books as A. K. McClure, Three Thousand 
Miles through the Rockies (Philadelphia, 1869); Samuel Bowles, 
Across the Continent (Springfield, 1865); J. H. Cook, Fifty Years on 
the Old Frontier (New Haven, 1923); T. A. McNeal, When Kansas 
Was Young (New York, 1922); R. M. Wright, Dodge City (Dodge 
City, 1913); William Wright (Dan De Quille), The Big Bonanza 
(Hartford, 1876); Wells Drury, An Editor on the Comstock Lode 
(New York, 1934). Two books with interesting chapters on the 
amusements of the cowboy are Emerson Hough, The Story of the 


Cowboy (New York, 1897), and Philip Ashton Rollins, The Cowboy 
(New York, 1922), while a more colorful record is We Pointed Them 
North, by E. C. Abbott ("Teddy Blue") and Helen Huntington 
Smith (New York, 1939). The authentic flavor of this country is also 
preserved in John A. and Alan Lomax, Cowboy Songs (New York, 


The distinctive character of recreation in the ante-bellum South 
demands some special mention of the primary sources in this field. 
Two interesting journals of northerners describing plantation life are 
Henry Barnard, 'The South Atlantic States," in The Maryland His- 
torical Magazine, XIII, and A. DePuy Van Buren, Jottings of a Year's 
Sojourn in the South (Battle Creek, Mich., 1859), while among many 
reminiscences of pre-war days are Susan Dabney Smedes, Memorials 
of a Southern Planter (Baltimore, 1887); Herbert Ravenel Sass, A 
Carolina Rice Plantation in the Fifties (New York, 1936); Eliza 
Ripley, Social Life in Old New Orleans (New York, 1912); F. D. 
Srygley, Seventy Years in Dixie (Nashville, 1893); and Thomas Nel- 
son Page, Social Life in Old Virginia (New York, 1897). Quite a 
different phase of southern life, with descriptions of amusements in 
the backwoods, is taken up in two memorable literary records: 
Joseph G. Baldwin, The Flush Times of Alabama and Mississippi 
(New York, 1854), and Augustus B. Longstreet, Georgia Scenes 
(Augusta, 1835). Two of the best contemporary social studies are 
D. R. Hundley, Social Relations in Our Southern States (New York, 
1860), and Frederick Law Olmsted, The Cotton Kingdom (2 vols., 
New York, 1862). 

Secondary sources that may be singled out for their material bear- 
ing on recreation are U. B. Phillips, Life and Labor in the Old South 
(Boston, 1929); Francis P. Gaines, The Southern Plantation (New 
York, 1924); Guion Griffis Johnson, Ante-Bellum North Carolina 
(Chapel Hill, 1937) ; and Minnie Clare Boyd, Alabama in the Fifties 
(New York, 1931). 


On the broad subject of the rise of sports the most valuable material 
is found in contemporary magazines, such manuals and guides as those 
of Spalding's Athletic Library, published by the American Sports 
Publishing Company, and other memorabilia in the extensive A. G. 
Spalding Collection in the New York Public Library. But a number 


of early books on sports would also qualify as primary sources: 
Horatio Smith, Festivals, Games and Amusement (New York, 1833); 
Charles A. Peverelly, The Book of American Pastimes (New York, 
1866); J. H. Walsh, Encyclopedia of Rural Sports (Philadelphia, 
1874); The Tribune Book of Open-Air Sports (New York, 1887); 
William Patten (editor), The Book of Sport (New York, 1901); and 
J. Parmly Paret, The Woman's Book of Sports (New York, 1901). 
There are also many books on hunting and field sports. While in 
general not of much value to the historian, two exceptions are H. W. 
Herbert (Frank Forester), Field Sports of the United States and 
British Provinces (2 vols., New York, 1848), and B. H. Revail, 
Shooting and Fishing in the Rivers, Provinces and Backwoods of 
America (London, 1865). 

Among the many personal records of individual sportsmen, there 
may be mentioned Hiram Woodruff, The Trotting Horse of America 
(New York, 1871); John J. McGraw, My Thirty Years in Baseball 
(New York, 1923); J. J. Corbett, The Roar of the Crowd (New York, 
1925); Ed Geer, Ed Geer's Experience with Trotters and Pacers 
(Buffalo, 1901); William R. Wister, Some Reminiscences of Cricket 
in Philadelphia before 1861 (Philadelphia, 1904); L. H. Porter, 
Wheels and Wheeling (New York, 1892); Walter G. Kendall, Four 
Score Years of Sport (Boston, 1933); Charles Evans, Jr., Chick Evans' 
Golf Book (Chicago, 1921); J. D. Travers and J. R. Crowell, The 
Fifth Estate, Thirty Years of Golf (New York, 1926); and A. A. 
Stagg and W. W. Stout, Touchdown (New York, 1927). 

The only comprehensive record of American sports among the 
secondary authorities, as already noted, is John A. Krout, Annals of 
American Sport; but Herbert Manchester, Four Centuries of Sport in 
America 1490-1890 (New York, 1931), has a broad sweep, and there 
is a stimulating essay, "The Rise of American Sports/* by F. L. Pax- 
son in the Mississippi Valley Historical Review., IV. Jennie Holliman 
has made a careful study for a limited period in American Sports 
1785-1835 (Durham, N. C., 1931), and note should also be made 
of Emmett A. Rice, A Brief History of Physical Education (New 
York, 1929); C. E. Rainwater, The Play Movement in the United 
States (Chicago, 1921); John R. Tunis, Sports, Heroics and Hysterics 
(New York, 1928); and Paul Gallico, Farewell to Sport (New York, 
1938). There is also considerable material in R. B. Weaver's pre- 
viously cited Amusements and Sports in American Life. 

Among individual sports, yachting has an extensive literature, two 
of the best accounts being F. S. Cozzens, Yachts and Yachting (New 


York, 1888), and W. P. Stephens, American Yachting (New York, 
1904). Horse-racing has had many histories, among which may be 
mentioned John H. Wallace, The Horse of America (New York, 1897); 
W. S. Vosburgh, Racing in America 1866-1921 (New York, 1922); 
F. G. Griswold, Race Horses and Racing (New York, 1926); and, 
especially useful, Dwight Akers, Drivers Up: the Story of American 
Harness Racing (New York, 1938), and Charles B. Parmer, For Gold 
and Glory: The Story of Thoroughbred Racing in America (New York, 

Baseball has had several historians also. The principal authority is 
A. G, Spalding, America's National Game (New York, 1911), al- 
though its account of the origin of baseball is now superseded by the 
article of R. W. Henderson in the April, 1939, issue of the Bulletin 
of the New York Public Library. Other supplementary records include 
Francis C. Richter, History and Records of Baseball (Philadelphia, 
1914); John M. Ward, Baseball (Philadelphia, 1889); A. H. Spink, 
The National Game (St. Louis, 1910); and G. L. Moreland, BaUdom 
(New York, 1914). Parke H. Davis has written the leading history 
of football in Football, the Intercollegiate Game (New York, 1911). 
Other less valuable accounts are Walter Camp and Lorin F. Deland, 
Football (New York, 1896), and A. M. Weyand, American Football 
(New York, 1926). 

A few other interesting books in their respective fields are Alexan- 
der Johnston, TenAnd Out! (New York, 1936), a history of prize- 
fighting; Robert F. Kelley, American Routing (New York, 1932); 
H. F. Leonard, A Handbook of Wrestling (New York, 1877); Robert 
P. Elmer, Archery (Philadelphia, 1926); Frederick W. Jannsen, A 
History of American Amateur Athletics and Aquatics (New York, 
1888); James Naismith and L. Gulick, Basketball (New York, 1894); 
Samuel Crowther and Arthur Ruhl, Rowing and Track Athletics (New 
York, 1905); J. P. Paret, Lawn Tennis (New York, 1912); Fifty 
"Years of Lawn Tennis in the United States (New York, 1931); H. B. 
Martin, Fifty Years of American Golf (New York, 1936). Interesting 
data on all sports may be found in the various editions of the All- 
Sports Record Book and the Encyclopedia of Sports 9 both edited by 
Frank G. Menke. 


The primary material for the growth of motion pictures, the recrea- 
tional use of the automobile, and radio is found in newspapers and 


magazines, both the more general publications to which reference has 
already been made and various special magazines. The Motion Pic- 
ture News and Film Daily are especially useful for the movies, the 
Film Daily Yearbook providing a valuable annual summary. Among 
publications devoted to the automobile, Facts and Figures of the 
Automobile Industry, issued annually by the National Automobile 
Chamber of Commerce, is an indispensable factual record of the 
industry's expansion. Radio Broadcast and Radio Today provide a run- 
ning commentary on developments in broadcasting. There have been 
many special studies of the influence and social significance of the 
movies and radio reports, among many others, of the Motion Picture 
Research Council and of both the National Broadcasting Company 
and the Columbia Broadcasting Company. Also, many autobiographies 
of screen stars have appeared in recent years. No attempt at a bibli- 
ography has been made in listing the following selected sources. 

The best account of the early development of motion pictures in 
book form is Terry Ramsaye, A Million and One Nights (2 vols,, New 
York, 1926). Other sources include Ben J. Lubschez, The Story of the 
Motion Picture (New York, 1920); Benjamin B. Hampton, A History 
of the Movies (New York, 1931); H. B. Franklin, Sound Motion Pic- 
tures (Garden City, 1920); F. A. Talbot, Moving Pictures (Phila- 
delphia, 1912); WiU Irwin, The House That Shadows Built (New 
York, 1927); W. M. Seabury, The Public and the Motion Picture 
Industry (New York, 1926); Lewis Jacobs, The Rise of the American 
Film (New York, 1939), with an extensive bibliography; Margaret F. 
Thorp, America at the Movies (New Haven, 1939) ; and, among other 
studies of the Payne Fund, Edgar Dale, The Content of Motion Pic- 
tures (New York, 1935). 

Books on the automobile are largely concerned with its industrial 
importance rather than the recreational aspects of motoring, but among 
the more useful histories Hiram Percy Maxim, Horseless Carnage 
Days (New York, 1937); R. C. Epstein, The Automobile Industry 
(Chicago, 1928); H. L. Barber, The Story of the Automobile (Chi- 
cago, 1927); Arthur Pound, The Turning Wheel (New York, 1934), 
should be mentioned. There are many books about Henry Ford. Two 
to be noted are My Life and Work, written by Henry Ford in collabo- 
ration with Samuel Crowther (Garden City, 1922), and Charles Merz, 
And Then Came Ford (New York, 1929). 

Paul Schubert's The Electric Word; the Rise of Radio (New York, 
1929) is a general history of this form of communications and enter- 
tainment. Other accounts are A. N. Goldsmith and A. C. Lescarboura, 


This Thing Called Broadcasting (New York, 1930) ; Gleason L. Archer, 
History of Radio (New York, 1938); Alvin F. Harlow, Old Wires and 
New Waves (New York, 1936); Samuel L. Rothafel and R. F. Yates, 
Broadcasting-Its New Day (New York, 1925); and Hadley Cantril 
and Gordon W. Allport, The Psychology of Radio (New York, 1935). 
There is also interesting material in Alfred P. Morgan, The Pageant of 
Electricity (New York, 1939). 


While the primary sources and special studies already noted pro- 
vide the basic data for any discussion of recreation in the twentieth 
century, two other groups of books of a more general nature remain 
to be noted. The first comprises contemporary records of American 
civilization. Foremost among them in its treatment of the people at 
play is Mark Sullivan, Our Times: The United States 1900-1925 (6 
vols., New York, 1925-35). There is a stimulating chapter on enter- 
tainment in Charles A. and Mary Beard, America in Midpassage 
(New York, 1939), and unusually valuable material in both Middle- 
town (New York, 1929) and Middletown in Transition (New York, 
1937), by Robert S. and Helen Merrell Lynd. Stuart Chase has a 
chapter on "Play" in Whither Mankind (Charles Beard, editor, New 
York, 1928), and John R. Tunis one on "The Business of American 
Sport" in America as Americans See It (New York, 1932). Among 
many others two especially helpful books in this field are Charles 
Merz, The Great American Bandwagon (New York, 1925), ancl 
Frederick Lewis Allen, Only Jesterday (New York, 1931). 

The second group of books includes a large number of sociological 
studies of leisure and recreation. This literature is listed in the bib- 
liographies of the Russell Sage Foundation, and only a few titles can 
be noted here. The most important for the purposes of this study is 
Jesse F. Steiner, Americans at Play (New York, 1938), a monograph 
from which the material was derived for the chapter on recreation in 
Recent Social Trends, Report of the President's Research Committee 
on Social Trends (2 vols., New York, 1933). Special note should 
also be made of Julius Weinberger, Economic Aspects of Recreation 
(Harvard Business Review reprint, Cambridge, 1937), the best of 
several studies of this nature; the annual Recreation Yearbook of the 
magazine Recreation; and the articles on recreation, play, amuse- 
ments, leisure, etc., in the Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. A 
highly selective list of books on the modern "problem of leisure" 


would include C. DeLisle Burns, Leisure in the Modern World (New 
York, 1932); C. E. M. Joad, Diogenes; or The Future of Leisure 
(London, 1928); Arthur N. Pack, The Challenge of Leisure (New 
York, 1934); G. B. Cutten, The Threat of Leisure (New Haven, 
1926); George A. Lundberg, Leisure A Suburban Study (New York, 
1934); Herbert L. May and Dorothy Petgen, Leisure and Its Uses 
(New York, 1928); M. H. and E. S. Neumeyer, Leisure and Recrea- 
tion (New York, 1936), a textbook; and Jay B. Nash, Spectatoritis 
'(New York, 1932) . There are also many analytical studies of the use 
o leisure and recreational habits in specific communities, and an ex- 
tensive periodical literature on this general topic. 


"In Detestation of Idleness" 

1. Ralph Hamor, A True Discourse of the Present Estate of Virginia 

(London, 1615; reprint Richmond, 1860), 26. 

2. Edward Winslow (December 11, 1621), quoted in Alice Morse Earl, 

Child Life in Colonial Days (New York, 1899), 217. 

3. Thomas Morton, The New English Canaan (London, 1637; reprint 

Prince Society Publications, XIV, Boston, 1883), 279. 

4. William Bradford, History of Plymouth Plantation, in J. F. Jameson 

(editor), Original Narratives of Early American History (New York, 
1908), 238. 

5. Peter Force, Tracts and Other Papers (4 vols., Washington, 1836-46), 

III, 2, 16. 

6. Bradford, loc. cit., 238; Records of the Court of Assistants of the Col- 

ony of Massachusetts Bay (Boston, 1904), II, 37. 

7. Alexander Brown, The Genesis of the United States (Boston, 1890), 


8. Edward Charming, A History of the United States (6 vols., New York, 

1905-25), I, 200. 

9. Quoted in George C. D. Odell, Annals of the New York Stage (New 

York, 1927- ), I, 3. 

10. Philip Bruce, Institutional History of Virginia in the Seventeenth Cen- 

tury (New York, 1910), I, 528. 

11. "Records of the Governor and Company of Massachusetts "Bay (Boston, 

1853), I, 405. 

12. Ibid., II, 195; Public Records of the Colony of Connecticut (Hartford, 

1850), I, 527. 

13. Records of the Court of Assistants . . . of Massachusetts Bay, II, 37; 

Public Records of . . . Connecticut, I, 528. 

14. See Records of the Governor . . . of Massachusetts Bay, II, 70, 180; 

William B. Weeden, Economic and Social History of New England 
(Boston, 1890), I, 224-25; Documents and Records Relating to the 
Province of New Hampshire (Concord, 1867), I> 391; Walter F. 
Prince, "Aix Examination of Peter's 'Blue Laws,"* American Histori- 
cal Association Annual Report, 1898, Q7ff. 

15. Massachusetts Historical Society Collections, Ser. 2, Vol. X, 183-84. 

16. Records of the Governor . ..of Massachusetts Bay, III, 224. 

17. Gustavus Myers, Y<? Olden Blue Laws (New York, 1921), 211; Arthur 

A. Hornblow, History of the American Theatre (Philadelphia, 1919), 



18. John Winthrop, History of New England, in J. F. Jameson (editor), 

Original Narratives of Early American History (New York, 1908), 
I, 325-27, 

19. Records of the Court of Assistants of... Massachusetts Bay, II, 37; 

Alexander Young, Chronicles of the First Planters of the Massachu- 
setts Bay Colony (Boston, 1846), 413. 

20. Force, Tracts, III, 2, 10; Alexander Brown, The First Republic in 

America (Boston, 1898), 278; Bruce, Institutional History of Vir- 
ginia, I, 37. 

21. Records of the Court of Assistants ...of Massachusetts Bay, III, 316-17; 

Public Records of . . . Connecticut, II, 280; Documents . . . of New 
Hampshire, I, 388. 

22. Records of the Court Assistants ...of Massachusetts Bay, III, 316-17. 

23. Frances M. Caulkins, History of New London (New London, 1895), 250. 

24. Charles Francis Adams, "Some Phases of Sexual Morality and Church 

Discipline in Colonial New England," Proceedings of the Massachu- 
setts Historical Society, Ser. 2, Vol. VI (1891), 496. 

25. See Thomas Cuming Hall, The Religious Background of American Cul- 

ture (Boston, 1930), Chap. I. 

26. Edward Eggleston, The Beginnings of a Nation (New York, 1897), 


27. The King's Majesties Declaration to his subjects concerning Lawful 

Sports to be used (London, 1618; reprinted Philadelphia, 1866). 

28. H. D. Traill (editor), Social England (London, 1895), IV, 167. 

29. See Cotton Mather, Magnalia Christi Americana (Hartford, 1820), I, 

240, quoted in Thomas J. Wertenbaker, The First Americans (A 
History of American Life, II), (New York, 1929), 92. 

30. Bradford, loc. cit., 126-27. 

31. Samuel Sewall, Diary, Massachusetts Historical Societtj Collections, 

Ser. 5, Vols. V-VII (1878-82), and in abridged form, Mark Van 
Doren, editor (New York, 1927). See also N. H. Chamberlain, 
Samuel Sewall and the World He Lived in (Boston, 1897). 

32. Sewall, Diary (Van Doren edition), 218. 

33. Ibid., 24-25, 27, 46. 

34. Ibid., 22, 177, 209, 255-56, 263. 

35. Ibid. (Massachusetts Historical Society edition), VII, 171. 

36. Ibid. (Van Doren edition), 151, 138. 

37. Alice Morse Earle, Customs and Fashions in Old New England (New 

York, 1893). 164#. 

38. Ibid., 168ff.; Wertenbaker, The First Americans, 200#. 

39. Winthrop, loc. cit., I, 120. 

40. Cotton Mather, Diary (March 18, 1710-11), Massachusetts Historical 

Society Collections, Ser. 7, Vols. VII-VIII (1911-12), VII, 51. 

41. Records of the Governor . . .of Massachusetts Bay, V, 63, quoted in 

James Duncan Phillips, Salem in the Seventeenth Century (Boston, 
1933), 244. 

42. Quoted in Wertenbaker, The First Americans, 196. 

43. The Statutes at Large of Virginia, 1619-1792 (Philadelphia, 1823), II, 

361. See also John A. Krout, Origins of Prohibition (New York, 
1925), 6-7. 

NOTES 393 

44. Quoted in Myers, Ye Olden Blue Laws, 147. 

45. Ibid., 158. 

46. Earle, Customs and Fashions, 256; Weeden, Economic and Social His- 

tory, I, 294. 

47. Quoted in Wertenbaker, The First Americans, 196-97. 

48. Sarah Kemble Knight, Private Journal (Albany, 1865), 50. For further 

discussion of this point see John Dunton, Letters from New England, 
Prince Society Publications, IV; Edward Ward, A Trip to New Eng- 
land (London, 1699); Charles Francis Adams, loc. cit., 477-516; 
and Wertenbaker, The First Americans, 196-200. 

Husking-Bees and Tavern Sports 

1. Ralph Hamor, A True Discourse of the Present Estate of Virginia 

(London, 1615; reprint Richmond, 1860), 20-21. 

2. Joseph Seccombe, "A discourse utter'd in Part at Ammauskeeg-Falls, in 

the Fishing Season, 1739" (Boston, 1743), 17. 

3. John Sharp, A Journal of My Life-Exteriour, in Pennsylvania Magazine 

of History and Biography, XL (1916), 286, 294, 295, 296. 

4. Esther Singleton, Social New York Under the Georges (New York, 

1902), 262. 

5. Quoted in Mary N. Stannard, Colonial Virginia (Philadelphia, 1917), 


6. John Bernard, Retrospections of America 1797-1811 (New York, 1877), 


7. George Alsop, A Character of the Province of Mary-land (London, 

1666; reprinted, N. D. Mereness, editor, Cleveland, 1902), 58. 

8. Charles Warren, Jacobin and Junto (Cambridge, 1931), 29. 

9. Quoted in Ray Palmer Baker, "Tine Poetry of Jacob Bailey, Loyalist," 

New England Quarterly, II (1929), 67-69. 

10. William B. Weeden, Economic and Social History of New England, I, 


11. Quoted in Captain Frederick Marryat, Diary in America (Philadelphia, 

1839), I, 125-26. 

12. Andrew Burnaby, Travels Through the Middle Settlements in North- 

America (London, 1775), 144-45; Bernard, Retrospections of Amer- 
ica, 89. See also H. R. Stiles, Bundling, Its Origin, Progress and 
Decline (Albany, 1869). 

13. Quoted in James Truslow Adams, Provincial Society (A History of 

American Life, II) (New York, 1936), 159. 

14. Sydney George Fisher, Men, "Women and Manners in Colonial Times 

(Philadelphia, 1898), I, 287#. 

15. Knight, Private Journal (Albany, 1865), 52-53. 

16. Samuel Sewall, Diary (Van Doren edition), 163. 

17. Ebenezer Cook, The Sot-Weed Factor (B. C. Steiner, editor), Mary- 

land Historical Society Fund Publications, No. 36 (1900), 22. 

18. Alice Morse Earle, Colonial Dames and Goodwives (Boston, 1895), 

207-208; Stannard, Colonial Virginia, 153, 258-59. 


19. Philip Vickers Fithian, Journal and Letters (Princeton, 1900), 42-43. 

20. See Samuel Eliot Morison, Three Centuries of Harvard (Cambridge, 

1936), 121-22. 

21. George Francis Dow, Every Day Life in the Massachusetts Bay Colony 

(Boston, 1935), 112-14. 

22. Ibid., 114 for instances of these sports; Singleton, Social New York 

Under the Georges, 267; Alice Morse Earle, Customs and Fash- 
ions in Old New England (New York, 1893), 237; Martha T- 
Lamb, History of the City of New York (2 vols., New York, 1877-80), 
II, 453; J. Thomas Scharf and Thompson Westcott, History of Phila- 
delphia (Philadelphia, 1884), II, 939$; Jennie Holliman, American 
Sports 1785-1885 (Durham, North Carolina, 1931), 127. 

23. William Winterbotham, An Historical View of the United States (New 

York, 1796), II, 17; Earle, Customs and Fashions, 19. 

24. Quoted in Albert Bushnell Hart, Commonwealth History of Massachu- 

setts (5 vols., New York, 1927-30), II, 280. . 

25. William B. Bentley, Diary (Salem, 1905), I, 22. 

26. Edward Channing, A History of the United States, I (New York, 1905), 


27. Daniel Denton, A Brief Description of New York (London, 1670), in 

William Gowans, Biblioteca Americana (New York, 1845), 3-4. 

28. Alice Morse Earle, Colonial Days in Old New York (New York, 1896), 

20; Herbert Ingraham Priestley, The Coming of the White Man (A 
History of American Life, I) (New York, 1930), 338-39. 

29. Stannard, Colonial Virginia, 257. 

30. Thomas J. Wertenbaker, The First Americans (A History of American 

Life, II) (New York, 1929), 263. 

31. Hugh Jones, The Present State of Virginia (London, 1724; reprinted 

New York, 1865), 48. 

32. Bernard, Retrospections of America, 155-56. 

33. Elkanah Watson, Men and Times of the Revolution (New York, 1856), 


34. Jones, The Present State of Virginia, 48. 

35. Marquis de Chastellux, Travels in North America (New York, 1827), 


36. Ruth E. Painter, "Tavern Amusements in Eighteenth Century America," 

Americana, XI (1916), 92#. See also Edward Field, The Colonial 
Tavern (Providence, 1897). . 

37. John Adams, Diary, in Works (10 vols., Boston, 1850-56), II, 125. 

38. Quoted in Earle, Customs and Fashions, 240. 

39. Quoted in Lamb, History of the City of New York, II, 465. 

40. Earle, Customs and Fashions, 238. 

41. Ibid., 163. 

42. Winterbotham, An Historical View of the United States, II, 17. 

43. Stannard, Colonial Virginia, 141. 

44. Burnaby, Travels (reprint New York, 1904), 57-58. 

45. Bernard, Retrospections of America, 208-209. 

46. Dow, Every Day Life, 115. 

47. Samuel Sewall, Diary, Massachusetts Historical Society Collections 

Ser. 5, Vol. VII, 1. 

NOTES 395 

48. R. W. G. Vail, "Random Notes on the History of the Early American 

Circus," Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society, April, 
1933 (reprint, Worcester, 1934), 6-7; Scharf and Westcott, History 
of Philadelphia, II, 864; Odell, Annals of the New York Stage, I, 10. 

49. Earle, Customs and Fashions, 243; Odell, I, 18, 44. 

50. Sewall, Diary, V, 196. 

51. Odell, Annals of the New York Stage, I, 10. 

52. Ibid., I, 48-49; Singleton, Social New York Under the Georges, 317. 

53. Scharf and Westcott, History of Philadelphia, II, 863. 

54. Dow, Every Day Life, 117. 

55. Odell, Annals of the New York Stage, I, 23-24, 27, 30. 

56. Scharf and Westcott, History of Philadelphia, II, 950. 

57. The Pope's Kingdom, Book IV, translated from the Latin of Thomas 

Neogeorgus by Barnaby Googe, 1570, quoted in Joseph Strutt, The 
Sports and Pastimes of the People of England (London, 1831), Iv. 

The Colonial Aristocracy 

1. John Adams, Works, II, 59. 

2. Ibid., II, 62, 10, 289. 

3. Quaint Advertisements, Old Times Series, No. 4. 

4. John Quincy Adams, Life in a New England Town (Boston, 1903), 46. 

5. Ibid., 77, 97. 

6. Ibid., 88, 91, 78. 

7. Joseph Bennett, Diary, Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical So- 

ciety, 1861, 125. 

8. Quoted in Justin Winsor, Memorial History of Boston (3 vols., Boston, 

1880-81), I, 458. 

9. Bennett, Diary, 125. 

10. Dr. Alexander Hamilton, Itinerarium (A. B. Hart, editor) (St Louis, 

1907), 178-79. 

11. Captain Francis Goelet, Journal, New England Historical and Genea- 

logical Register, XXIV (1870), 53. 

12. Anne Hulton, Letters of a Loyalist Lady (Cambridge, 1927), passim. 

13. Walter Tittle, Colonial Holidays (New York, 1910), 28. 

14. Marquis de Chastellux, Travels in North America (New York, 1827), 


15. Quoted in Winsor, Memorial History of Boston, I, 479. 

16. Charles Warren, Jacobin and Junto (Cambridge, 1931), 20. 

17. Ibid., 26. 

18. O. G. Sonneck, Early Concert-Life in America (Leipzig, 1907), 19, 

250, 253. 

19. Peter Kalm, quoted in Martha J. Lamb, History of the City of New 

"York (2 vols., New York, 1877-80), II, 633. 

20. J. F. Watson, Annals of New York (Philadelphia, 1846), 264. 

21. Lamb, History of the City of New York, II, 633tf. 

22. Andrew Bumaby, Travels Through the Middle Settlements in North- 

America (London, 1775), 114. 


23. Sarah Kemble Knight, Private Journal (Albany, 1865), 70-71. 

24. Alexander Macraby, quoted in Alice Morse Earle, Colonial Dames and 

Goodwives (Boston, 1895), 220. 

25. Alice Morse Earle, Colonial Days in Old New York (New York, 1896), 


26. Ibid., 221. 

27. Esther Singleton, Social New York Under the Georges (New York, 

1902), 265-66. 

28. John Sharp, A Journal of My Life-Exteriour, in Pennsylvania Magazine 

of History and Biography, XL (1916), 420, 425. 

29. Quoted in Singleton, Social New York Under the Georges, 303. See also 

George C. D. Odell, Annals of the New York Stage (New York, 
1927- ) I, 27. 

30. Singleton, Social New York Under the Georges, 307, 308. 

31. Quoted in Earle, Colonial Days in Old New York, 216. 

32. New York Gazette, January 6-13, 1735-36, quoted in Odell, Annals of 

the New York Stage, I, 17. See also Sonneck, Early Concert-Life, 

33. Foster Bhea Dulles, Eastward Ho (Boston, 1930), 137. 

34. Odell, Annals of the New York Stage, I, 5-7, 10-11, 21. For further 

discussion see Charles L. Daly, The First Theatre in America; Oscar 
L. Wegelin, The Beginnings of the Drama in America. 

35. Odell, Annals of the New York Stage, I, 32ff. 

36. Ibid., 114-15. 

37. New York Gazette, quoted in Watson, Annals of New York, 264. 

38. Quoted in OdeU, Annals of the New York Stage, I, 111. See also Wil- 

liam Dunlap, History of the American Theatre (London, 1833), 51. 

39. Odell, Annals of the New York Stage, I, 110-45 passim; Dunlap, His- 

tory of the American Theatre, 51f; Singleton, Social New York 
Under the Georges, 272-95; O, G. Sonneck, Early Opera in America 
(Boston, 1915), 77 ff. 

40. Burnaby, Travels, 31. 

41. Marquis de Chastellux, quoted in George Morgan, Patrick Henry (Phil- 

adelphia, 1929), 55. 

42. Philip Vickers Fithian, Journal and Letters (Princeton, 1900), 50, 296. 

43. Ibid., 202. 

44. Ibid., 58, 143, 144, 181, 218. 

45. Ibid., 59. 

46. Ibid., 223-24. 

47. Ibid., 96, 97, 185, 192-93. 

48. George Washington, Diaries (4 vols., Boston, 1925), I, 299ff. 

49. Ibid., I, 126. 

50. Sarah N. Randolph, The Domestic Life of Thomas Jefferson (New 

York, 1871), 26tf. U 

51. Paul Leicester Ford, Washington and the Theatre, Dunlap Society 

Publications, New Series, No. 8 (New York, 1899), 20-22. 

52. Ibid., 5-9; OdeU, Annals of the New York Stage, I, 9, 20; Lyon G. 

Tyler, Williamsburg (Richmond, 1907), 224-26; Eola Willis, The 
Charleston Stage in the Eighteenth Century (Columbia, 1924) 25-26 

53. Tyler, Williamsburg, 230. 

NOTES 397 

54. Josiah Quincy, Memoir of the Life of Josiah Quincy, fan. (Boston, 

1825), 96. 

55. Willis, The Charleston Stage, 59-77. 

56. Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America (Boston, 1876), I, 243, 

57. Hamilton, Itinerarium, 50. 

58. Burnaby, Travels, 87. 

59. James Truslow Adams, Provincial Society (A History of American Life, 

II) (New York, 1936), 261-62; Singleton, Social New 'York Under 
the Georges, 311. 

60. Carl Bridenbaugh, "Colonial Newport as a Summer Resort," Rhode 

Island Historical Society, XXVI (1933), I, 4. 

61. Ibid., 14, 16-18. 

62. Quoted in George O. Willard, History of the Providence Stage (Provi- 

dence, 1891), 8-9. 

63. Ibid., 14-15. 

64. Quoted in Ford, Washington and the Theatre, 24. 

The Frontier 

1. Frances Trollope, Domestic Manners of the Americans (London, 1832), 

I, 248. 

2. William Faux, Memorable Days in America (London, 1823), in Reuben 

Gold Thwaites, Early Western Travels 1748-1846 (Cleveland, 
1907), XI, 210. 

3. John James Audubon, Delineations of American Scenery and Character 

(1834; reprinted New York, 1926), 59-62; John Woods, Two 'Years 
Residence in the Illinois Country (London, 1822), in Thwaites, 
Early Western Travels, X, 249, 318; John Bradbury, Travels in the 
Interior of America (London, 1819), in ibid., V, 280; Thomas D. 
Clark, The Rampaging Frontier (Indianapolis, 1939), 31. 

4. David Crockett, An Account of Colonel Crockett's Tour Written by 

Himself (Philadelphia, 1837), 176 ff. See also Edmund Flagg, The 
Far West (New York, 1838), in Thwaites, Early Western Travels, 
XXVI, 360-61; William N. Blane, An Excursion Through the United 
States (London, 1824), 302; Baynard Rush Hall, The New Purchase 
(New York, 1855), 104-12. 

5. John Bernard, Retrospections of America 1797-1811 (New York, 1877), 


6. H. M. Brackenridge, Recollections of Persons and Places in the West 

(Philadelphia, 1868), 60-63. 

7. Albert Beveridge, AbraJiam Lincoln (Boston, 1928), I, 111. 

8. Samuel L. Clemens (Mark Twain), Life on the Mississippi (1874) 

(Hartford, 1899), 32-33. 

9. Timothy Flint, Recollections of the Last Ten Years (Boston, 1826), 98. 
10. Thomas Ashe, Travels in America (London, 1808), quoted in John A. 

Krout, Annals of American Sport (Pageant of America, XV) (New 
Haven, 1929), 28. 


11. William H. Herndon and Jesse W. Weik, Life of Lincoln (New York, 

1896), I, 108-9. 

12. Quoted in Marquis James, Andrew Jackson: the Border Captain ( India- 

napolis, 1933), 19. See also James Parton, Life of Andrew Jackson 
(New York, 1860), I, 253. 

13. Faux, Memorable Days in America, in Thwaites, Early Western Travels, 

XI, 196; Woods, Two Years Residence, in ibid., X, 264, 346; Richard 
Flower, Letters from Lexington and Illinois (London, 1819), in 
ibid. 9 X, 125. 

14. Bessie Louise Pierce, A History of Chicago (New York, 1937), I, 208. 

15. Flower, Letters from Lexington and Illinois, in Thwaites, Early West- 

ern Travels, X, 300. 

16. Crockett, An Account of Colonel Crockett's Tour, 34. 

17. Audubon, Delineations of American Scenery, 244. 

18. Everett Dick, The SodrHouse Frontier, 1854-1890 (New York, 1937), 

75, 266, 281. 

19. William H. Milburn, The Rifle, Axe and Saddle-Bags (New York, 

1857), 46-51; Hall, The New Purchase, 426-28. 

20. Beveridge, Abraham Lincoln, I, 92. 

21. Bernard De Voto, Mark Twain s America (Boston, 1932), 104$. 

22. James Stuart, Three fears in North America (New York, 1833), II, 


23. James Flint, Letters from America (Edinburgh, 1822), in Thwaites, 

Early Western Travels, IX, 261-62. 

24. Peter Cartwright, Autobiography (New York, 1857), 121. 

25. James B. Finley, Autobiography (Cincinnati, 1854), 364. 

26. Cartwright, Autobiography, 48. 

27. Herndon and Weik, Life of Lincoln, 11-12. 


A Changing Society 

1. Timothy Dwight, Travels in New England and New York (London 

1823), IV, 343-44. 

2. Bureau of the Census, as cited in Statistical Abstract, 1935 (Washing- 

ton, 1936), 6. to 

3. Michael Chevalier, Society, Manners and Politics in the United States 

(Boston, 1839), 473. 

4. Quoted in George B. Cutten, The Threat of Leisure (New Haven 


5. T. L. Nichols, Forty Years of American Life (London, 1874), 206. 

6. Charles Lyell, A Second Visit to United States (New York, 1849), 

quoted in Allan Nevins, American Social History as Recorded by 
British Travellers (New York, 1932), 333. See also Charles Dickens, 
American Notes (Fireside Edition), 68, 99-100; Frances Trollope,' 
Domestic Manners of the Americans (London, 1832), II, 82, 142, 
193; Basil Hall, Travels in North America (London, 1829),' 258; 
Thomas Hamilton, Men and Manners (Philadelphia, 1833), 70; 
Frances J. Grand, The Americans (Boston, 1837), 119. 

NOTES 399 

7. Trollope, Domestic Manners of the Americans, II, 142, 193. 

8. Dickens, American Notes, 170. 

9. Ibid., 99, 100. 

10. Quoted in Arthur A. Hornblow, History of the American Theatre 

(Philadelphia, 1919), I, 24. 

11. Henry Ward Beecher, Addresses to Young Men (1844) (Philadelphia, 

1893), 242, 253, 259. See also Dickens, American Notes, 68; 
Grund, The Americans, 120; Alfred Bunn, Old England and New 
England (London, 1853), II, 110-11. 

12. See Edward Channing, A History of the United States (6 vols., New 

York, 1905-25), V, I75f; John Bach McMaster, History of the People 
of the United States (8 vols,, New York, 1883-1913), IV, 531$; 
John A. Krout, Origins of Prohibition (New York, 1925). 

13. Anne Royall, Sketches of History, Life and Manners of the United 

States (New Haven, 1826), 299. 

14. Voice of Industry, March 20, 1846, quoted in Norman Ware, The 

Industrial Worker, 1840-60 (Boston, 1924), 127. See also John R. 
Commons, A Documentary History of American Industrial Society 
(Cleveland, 1910), VI, 97. 

15. Henry Wansey, An Excursion to the United States (Salisbury, 1798), 

24; McMaster, History of the People of the United States, V, 575. 

16. Emerson Davis, The Half Century (Boston, 1851), 188. 

17. Nichols, Forty Years of American Life, 43. 

18. Democratic Press, June 14, 1827, quoted in Commons, Documentary 

History, V, 80. 

19. The American Lyceum (Boston, 1829), reprint, Old South Leaflets, 

VI, No. 139; Cecil B. Hayes, "The American Lyceum,*' Bureau of 
U. S. Education Bulletin No. 12 (1932), 7-9, 22. 

20. Philip Hone, Diary (edited by Allan Nevins, New York, 1927), 515, 


21. Chevalier, Society, Manners and Politics, 128-29. 

22. Harriet H. Robinson, Loom and Spindle (New York, 1898), 75. 

23. Dickens, American Notes, 78$. See also Lucy Larcom, "Among Lowell 

Mill Girls/' Atlantic Monthly, XLVIII (1881), 600; "Leisure for 
Mill Girls," Lowell Offering, 11, 65#v Basil Hall, Travels in North 
America, 287; David Crockett, Life o/ (Philadelphia, 1860), 92; 
James Silk Buckingham, The Eastern and Western States of America 
(London, 1842), I, 295#. 

24. Lowell Offering, I, 5. 

25. George Combe, Notes on the United States (Edinburgh, 1841), I, 120. 

26. See Frances Wright D'Arusmont, Views of Society and Manners in 

America (New York, 1821), 120, 

27. Achille Murat, A Moral and Political Sketch of the United States (Lon- 

don, 1833), 356. See also Combe, Notes on the United States, II, 
126; Trollope, Domestic Manners of the Americans, I, 166, 214, 216; 
Alexander Mackay, The Western World (London, 1850), I, 228. 

28. Hamilton, Men and Manners, 81. 

29. Spalding Skating Guide (New York, 1862), 51; Arthur Charles Cole, 

The Irrepressible Conflict (A History of American Life, VII) (New 
York, 1934), 189. 


30. Lowell Offering, I, 61. 

81. Basil Hall, Travels in Worth America, 195, 294; Mrs. Basil Hall, The 
Aristocratic Journey (New York, 1931), 125. 

32. James Stuart, Three Years in North America (London, 1833), I, 497. 

33. Charles William Day, Hints on Etiquette (New York, 1843). 

34. Captain Frederick Marryat, A Diary in America (Philadelphia, 1839), 

quoted in Dixon Wecter, The Saga of American Society (New York, 
1937), 317. 

35. Trollope, Domestic Manners of the Americans, I, 189. 

The Theatre Comes of Age 

1. William Davidge, Footlight Flashes (New York, 1867), 202. 

2. Arcturus, II (1841), 29, quoted in Frank Luther Mott, A History of 

American Magazines (New York and Cambridge, 1930), I (1741- 
1850), 430. 

3. John Bach McMaster, History of the People of the United States (8 

vols., New York, 1883-1913), VII, 92#. 

4. Reese D. James, Old Drury of Philadelphia (Philadelphia, 1932), 24, 

66; George C. D. Odell, Annals of the New York Stage (New York, 
1927- ), II, 460; Henry Austin Clapp, Reminiscences of a Dramatic 
Critic (Boston, 1902), 134. 

5. George M. Edward, Some Earlier Public Amusements of Rochester 

(Rochester, 1894), 4; John Bernard, Retrospections of America 1797- 
1811 (New York, 1877), 318; Joseph B, Felt, Annals of Salem 
(Salem, 1845), II, 43-45. 

6. See N. M. Ludlow, Dramatic Life as I Found It (St. Louis, 1880); 

Frances C. Wemyss, Chronology of the American Stage from 1752 
to 1852 (New York, c. 1852), 11, 14; and article on Samuel Drake 
in Dictionary of American Biography. 

7. Tyrone Power, Impressions of America (London, 1836), I, 66, 87, 123, 

141, 210, 351-52; H, 172, 191. 

8. Carl Russell Fish, The Rise of the Common Man (A History of Ameri- 

can Life, VI) (New York, 1937), 145. 

9. Odell, Annals of the New York Stage, IV, 603; James, Old Drury of 

Philadelphia, 40-41; Arthur A. Hornblow, History of the American 
Theatre (Philadelphia, 1919), II, 26, 161; William G. B. Carson, 
The Theatre on the Frontier (Chicago, 1932), 180. 

10. New 'York Daily Advertiser, quoted in Odell, Annals of the Neio "York 

Stage, H, 8. See also ibid., IV, 603; Hornblow, History of the Amer- 
ican Theatre, II, 77, 443; Clapp, Reminiscences, 366, 493; Arthur 
Herman Wilson, A History of the Philadelphia Theatre, 1835 to 1855 
(Philadelphia, 1935), 38; William B. Wood, Personal Recollections 
of the Stage ( Philadelphia, 1855), 299; Alfred Bunn, Old England 
and New England (London, 1853), II, 105. 

11. James Silk Buckingham (1838), quoted in Dixon Wecter, The Saga 

of American Society (New York, 1937), 466. 

12. Hornblow, History of the American Theatre, II, 143. 

NOTES 401 

13. T. Allston Brown, A History of the New York Stage (New York, 1903), 

I, 415-18; Philip Hone, Diary (edited by .Allan Kevins, New York, 
1927), 870; Harry Watkins, Journal (One Man in His Time, edited 
by Maud and Otis Skinner, Philadelphia, 1938), 73-74. 

14. Wemyss, Chronology of the American Stage, 178. 

15. Richard Grant White, quoted in Hornblow, History of the American 

Theatre, II, 167-68, 

16. Frances Trollope, Domestic Manners of the Americans (London, 1832), 

I, 187; II, 162-63. See also Odell, Annals of the New York Stage, 
VII, 655. 

17. New fork Herald, November 2, 1864, quoted in Odell, Annals of the 

New York Stage, VII, 658-59. 

18. Richard Grant White, quoted in Hornblow, History of the American 

Theatre, II, 167-68. 

19. Quoted in Montrose J. Moses and John Mason Brown, The American 

Theatre as Seen by Its Critics 1752-1934 (New York, 1934), 40#. 

20. James, Old Drury of Philadelphia, 31; Odell, Annals of the New York 

Stage, II, 517; V, 485; III, 183; VII, 236-37. 

21. William Dunlap, History of the American Theatre (London, 1833), 407#. 

22. Carson, The Theatre on the Frontier, 309. 

23. New "fork Herald, September 19, 1838. See also Plain Dealer, Decem- 

ber 3, 1836, and Francis Joseph Daly, The Life of Augustin Daly 
(New York, 1917), quoted in Hornblow, History of the American 
Theatre, II, 168. 

24. Joseph Jefferson, Autobiography (New York, 1889), 54, 30. 

25. Ludlow, Dramatic Life as I Found It, 64-68. 

26. Sol Smith, Theatrical Management in the West and South for Thirty 

rears (New York, 1868), 79. 

27. Watkins, Journal, 67, 103, 39. 

28. Ibid., 141. 

29. Ibid., 55-56; Clapp, Reminiscences, 221-36, 278. 

30. Watkins, Journal, 83. 

31. Carson, The Theatre on the Frontier, 311, 319, 328-30; Wilson, A His- 

tory of the Philadelphia Theatre, 18-19, 130-31; Douglas L. Hunt, 
"The Nashville Theatre, 1830-1840," Birmingham-Southern College 
Bulletin, XXVIII, No. 3 (1935), 54; Watikins, Journal, 151. 

32. Watkins, Journal, 230. 

33. Program collection, New York Public Library. 

34. Watkins, Journal, 68; Odell, Annals of the New York Stage, V, 578. 

35. New "York Herald, September 3, 1852, quoted "in Moses and Brown, 

The American Theatre, 73-75. 

36. Quoted in Meade Minnigerode, The Fabulous Forties (New York, 

1924), 174-77. 

37. "Durang's History of the Philadelphia Stage," Philadelphia Sunday 

Dispatch, May 17, 1854, quoted in James, Old Drury of Phila- 
delphia, 26-27; Odell, Annals of the New York Stage, 111, 21, 215, 
IV, 163. 

38. Odell, Annals of the New York Stage, IV, 614. 

39. Achilla Murat, A Moral and Political Sketch of the United States 

(London, 1833), 367. See also Appleton's Journal, VIII, 580. 


40. New York Herald, May 15, 1840, in Odell, Annals of the New York 

Stage, W, 359. 

41. Hornblow, History of the American Theatre, II, 143. 

42. Hone, Diary, 480. 

43. Lawrence Hutton, Curiosities of the American Stage (London, 1891), 

157-58, 165; Odell, Annals of the New York Stage, V, 529#. See 
also Olive Logan, Apropos of Women and the Theatre (New York, 
1869), 134-37; Homblow, History of the American Theatre, II, 101. 

44. OdeU, Annals of the New York Stage, V, 378# , 401# . 

45. New York Tribune, December 1, 1847; New York Herald, March 1, 


46. Quoted in Minnigerode, The Fabulous Forties, 144. 

47. Quoted in Mary C. Crawford, The Romance of the American Theatre 

(Boston, 1925), 450-51. 

48. OdeU, Annals of the New York Stage, IV, 664. 

49. Ibid., V, 495. 

50. Moses and Brown, The American Theatre, 70-71. 

51. Hone, Diary, 573. 

52. Odell, Annals of the New York Stage, II, 466; Hornblow, History of the 

American Theatre, I, 299. 

53. Mott, A History of American Magazines, II, 198. 

54. Quoted in James E. Murdoch, The Stage (Philadelphia, 1880), 429. 

Mr. Barnum Shows the Way 

1. M. R. Werner, Barnum (New York, 1927), 52. 

2. Broadside advertisement, New York Public Library. 

3. Werner, Barnum, 65. 

4. "Sights and Wonders in New York" (pamphlet, New York, 1849); P. T. 

Barnum, Life . . . Written by Himself (New York, 1855), 225. 

5. Philip Hone, Diary (edited by Allan Nevins, New York, 1927), 12-13, 


6. Barnum, Life, 148f , 242ft 350f . 

7. George C. D. Odell, Annals of New York Stage (New York, 1927- ), 

IV, 669. See also Harry Watkins, Journal (One Man in His Time, 
edited by Maud and Otis Skinner, Philadelphia, 1938), 225$. 

8. Watkins, Journal, 9L 

9. Barnum, Life, 343. See also contemporary magazine comments in Frank 

Luther Mott, A History of American Magazines ( New York and Cam- 
bridge, 1930- ), II, 194-95. 

10. N. P. Willis, Memoranda of the Life of Jenny Lind (Philadelphia, 

1851), 95-97. X 

11. Ibid., 126. 

12. Barnum, Life, 343. 

13. William Davidge, Footlight Flashes (New York, 1867), 127. 

14. Lawrence Hutton, Curiosities of the American Stage (London, 1891), 

124-26; Carl Wittke, Tambo and Bones (Durham, N. C., 1930), 45; 
Francis Pendleton Gaines, The Southern Plantation (New York, 
1924), 100-101. 

NOTES 403 

15. Hutton, Curiosities, 115-19; N. M. Ludlow, Dramatic Life as I Found 

It (St. Louis, 1880), 392-93; Robert P. Nevin, "Stephen C. Foster 
and Negro Minstrelsy/' Atlantic Monthly, XX (1867), 608. 

16. Joseph Jefferson, Autobiography (New York, 1889), 7. 

17. Holden's Dollar Magazine, I (1848), quoted in Mott, History of 

American Magazines, I, 433. 

18. Wittke, Tambo and Bones, 57, 58-60; Davidge, Footlight Flashes, 

127-28; Ralph Keeler, Vagabond Adventures (Boston, 1872), 132. 

19. See Dailey Paskman and Sigmund Spaeth, "Gentlemen, Be Seated!" 

(New York, 1928), 47$. 

20. Quoted in Albert J. Beveridge, Abraham Lincoln, II, 536, 597. See also 

Wittke, Tambo and Bones, 209; and Nevin, loc. cit., 608. 

21. Earl Chapin May, The Circus from Rome to Ringling (New York, 

1932), 25-27; W. C, Coup, Sawdust and Spangles (Chicago, 1901), 
141; R. W. G. Vail, "Random Notes on the History o the Early 
American Circus," Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society, 
April, 1933 (reprint; Worcester, 1934), 17. 

22. Vail, loc. cit., 29; Joseph B. Felt, Annals of Salem (Salem, 1845), II, 


23. Isaac J. Greenwood, The Circus (New York, 1898), 113-14. 

24. Ibid., 64ff; Vail, loc. cit., 35; Barnum, Life, 177#; Gil Robinson, Old 

Wagon Show Days (Cincinnati, 1925), 20. 

25. Greenwood, The Circus, 64#; Vail, loc. cit., 64-68; Odell, Annals of 

the New York Stage, II, 491. 

26. Vail, loc. cit., 32-40; Coup, Sawdust and Spangles, 140-41. 

27. E. E. Calkins, They Broke the Vrairie (New York, 1937), 245; Bessie 

Louise Pierce, A History of Chicago (New York, 1937), I, 209; 
Greenwood, The Circus, 116; May, The Circus, 77-79; Vail, loc. 
cit., 35. 

28. Edmund Flagg, The Far West (New York, 1838), in Thwaites, Early 

Western Travels, XXVI, 225. 

29. Hiram Fuller, Belle Brittan on Tour (New York, 1858), 160. 

30. Barnum, Life, 348-49. 

The Beginning of Spectator Sports 

1. Atlantic Monthly, I (1858), 881. 

2. Jennie Holliman, American Sports 1785-1835 (Durham, N. C., 1931), 

158. See also Philip Hone, Diary (edited by Allan Nevins, New York, 
1927), 156. 

3. James Silk Buckingham, The Eastern and Western States of America 

(London, 1842), I, 22. 

4. P. T. Barnum, Life . . . Written by Himself (New York, 1855), 352-55. 

5. Spirit of the Times, November 8, 1856. 

6. Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, June 28, 1856. 

7. William N. Blane, An Excursion Through the United States (London, 

1824), 315-17; Josiah Ouincy, Figures of the Past (Boston, 1883), 
97; Charles H. Haswell, Reminiscences of an Octogenarian of the 
City of New York (New York, 1896), 140-44. See also Ralph Henry 


Gabriel, The Evolution of Long Island (New Haven, 1921), 169; 
and Max Farrand, "The Great Race Eclipse Against the World," 
Scribners, LXX (1921), 457-64. 

8. New Yorfc Herald, May 13, 1845. See also article on William Ransome 

Johnson, "Napoleon of the Turf," in Dictionary of American Biog- 
raphy, and Gabriel, Evolution of Long Island, 169. 

9. Hone, Diary, 601. 

10. Marquis James, Andrew Jackson: The Border Captain (Indianapolis, 

1933), 118. 

11. Quoted in Everett Dick, The Sod-House Frontier, 1854-1890 (New 

York, 1937), 279. 

12. Spirit of the Times, November 1, 1856. 

13. Hiram Woodruff, The Trotting Horse of America (New York, 1871), 

283; Dwight Akers, Drivers Up (New York, 1938), 73-89. 

14. Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, May 17, 1853, 357; Charles A. 

Peverelly, The Book of American Pastimes (New York, 1866), 164, 

15. Peverelly, Book of American Pastimes, 244$; Holliman, American 

Sports, 158; Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, April 28, 1860, 
March 17, 1860; New York Herald, August 9, 1838, September 11, 

16. Quoted (December 9, 1829) in Holliman, American Sports, 158. 

17. Frank Leslies Illustrated Newspaper, July 13, 1857, 28. 

18. New York Clipper, October 18, 1856, July 18, 1857. 

19. Spirit of the Times, July 20, 1839. 

20. Ibid., July 13, 1837. 

. Hone, Diary, 156-57; Holliman, American Sports, 154. 

22. New Yorfc Clipper, April 26, May 31, June 28, 1856. 

23. Niks' Weekly Register, XIII (1817), 128, quoted in Holliman, Ameri- 

can Sports, 143. 

24. Hone, Diary, 620. 

25. Ibid., 620. 

26. Spirit of the Times, April 7, March 17, 1860; Holliman, American 

Sports, 143$y Alexander Johnston, Ten-And Out! (New York, 1936), 

27. Vanity Fair, I (1860), 45, quoted in Frank Luther Mott, A History of 
American Magazines (New York and Cambridge, 1930- ), II, 202. 

28. Spirit of the Times, April 28, 1860. 

29. Ibid., September 1, 1860; Cleveland Plain Dealer, August 1, 1860, 

quoted in Arthur C. Cole, The Irrepressible Conflict (A History of 
American Life, VII) (New York, 1934), 191. 


1. Philip Hone, Diary (edited by Allan Nevins, New York, 1927), 588. 

2. The American Farmer (Baltimore), VI (1824-25), 271, 349. See also 

Arthur C. Cole, The Irrepressible Conflict (A History of American 
Life, VII) (New York, 1934), 190. 

NOTES 405 

3. Timothy Flint, Recollections of the Last Ten Years (Boston, 1826), 


4. Francis J. Grund, The Americans (Boston, 1837), 323. 

5. Fred A. Wilson, Some Annals of Nahant (Boston, 1928), 72; New 

York Herald (1853), quoted in Jefferson Williamson, The American 
Hotel (New York, 1930), 238; "Poem on the Mineral Waters of 
Ballston and Saratoga" (Ballston Spa, 1819). See also G, M. Davi- 
son, The Fashionable Tour (Saratoga Springs, 1825). 

6. William Gregg, Essays on Domestic Industry (1845), in D. A. Tomkins, 

Cotton Mill, Commercial Feature ( Charlotteville, N. C., 1899). 

7. Quoted in Dixon Wecter, The Saga of American Society (New York, 

1937), 437. 

8. Flint, Recollections, 393-94. 

9. Hone, Diary, 415. 

10. Eliza Ripley, Social Life in Old Neio Orleans (New York, 1912), 142. 

11. Achille Murat, A Moral and Political Sketch of the United States 

(London, 1833), 358. 

12. Michael Chevalier, Society, Manners and Politics in the United States 

(Boston, 1839), 315-16. 

13. Murat, A Moral and Political Sketch, 367. 

14. Quoted in Meade Minnigerode, The Fabulous Forties (New York, 

1924), 213-14. 

15. Henry Wansey, An Excursion to the United States (Salisbury, 1798), 


16. Wilson, Some Annals of Nahant, 77. 

17. James Stuart, Three Years in North America (London, 1833), I, 280. 

18. Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, August 22, 1857. 

19. Amelia M. Murray, Letters from the United States (London, 1856), I, 

37, quoted in Cole, The Irrepressible Conflict, 201. 

20. New York Herald, July 19, 1853, quoted in Williamson, The American 

Hotel, 236-37. 

21. Joseph Doddridge, Notes on the Settlement and Indian Wars (Albany, 

1S76), 201. 

22. William Makepeace Thackeray, Roundabout Papers (London, 1863), 

273. See also Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi. 

23. Herbert Asbury, Sucker's Progress (New York, 1938), 229. 

24. Ibid., 232. 

25. Thomas Clark, The Rampaging Frontier (Indianapolis, 1939), 244. 

26. George H. Devol, Forty Years a Gambler on the Mississippi (New 

York, 1926), 27, 37, 43. 

27. Harry Watkins, Journal (One Man in His Time, edited by Maud and 

Otis Skinner), 162-63. 

28. E. E. Calkins, They Broke the Frame (New York, 1937), 243-45. 

29. New Yorfc Herald, February 21, 1848; George C. D. Odell, Annals of 

the New York Stage (New York, 1927- ), IV, 43, 49, See also Cole, 
The Irrepressible Conflict, 239. 

30. Everett Dick, The SodrHouse Frontier, 1854-1890 (New York, 1937), 

285, 286. 

31. Thomas Nelson Page, Social Life in Old Virginia (New York, 1897), 



32. A. DePuy Van Buren, Jottings of a Year's Sojourn in the South (Battle 

Creek, Mich., 1859), 88. 

33. Henry Barnard, 'The South Atlantic States/' Maryland Historical 

Magazine, XIII, 295#, 318. See also U. B. Phillips, Life and Labor 
in the Old South (Boston, 1929), 229, 335. 

34. Susan Dabney Smedes, Memorials of a Southern Planter (Baltimore, 

188T), 180. 

35. Herbert Ravenel Sass, A Carolina Rice Plantation in the Fifties (New 

York, 1936). 

36. Agriculture of the United States in 1860 (Eighth Census), 247, quoted 

in Cole, Tfo Irrepressible Conflict, 34. 

37. Van Buren, Jottings of a Years Sojourn in the South, 118. 

38. U. B. Phillips, American Negro Slavery (New York, 1918), 314-15. 

39. American Historical Review, III, 41. 

40. D. R. Hundley, Social Relations in Our Southern States (New York, 

1860), 263. 

41. Phillips, Life and Labor in the Old South, 339#. 

42. Guion Griffis Johnson, Ante-Bellum North Carolina (Chapel Hill, 

1937), 91-104, 180. 

43. Ibid., 111. 

44. Augustus Baldwin Longstreet, Georgia Scenes (New York, 1840), 14, 


45. Frederick Law Olmstead, The Cotton Kingdom (New York, 1862), 

II, 73. 

46. Frances Anne Kemble, Journal (Philadelphia, 1835), I, 83-84n. 

47. Samuel Dexter Ward, Diary, New York Historical Society Quarterly 

Bulletin, XXI (1937), 114-15. 

48. Charles Lyell, Travels in North America (New York, 1852), I, 58. 

See also Grund, The Americans, 323. 

49. New York Daily Tribune, May 27, 1851, quoted in Norman Ware, 

The Industrial Worker, 1840-60 (Boston, 1924), 33. 

50. New York Herald, July 4, 1838; July 6, 1845; July 12, 1845; August 

27, 1838. 

51. Eric Adolphus Dime, "America's First Aeronaut,*' Air Travel, Janu- 

ary, 1918, 214#. See also Cole, The Irrepressible Conflict, 195-96. 

52. Gabriel Furman, "How New York City Used to Celebrate Independ- 

ence Day," New York Historical Society Quarterly Bulletin, July, 
1937, 93-94; Charles H. Haswell, Reminiscences of an Octogenarian 
of the City of New York (New York, 1896), 62. 

53. New York Herald, March 3, 1838; January 4, 17, 28, 1845. 

54. Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, December 15, 1855; New York 

Herald, November 3, 1857; New York Clipper, June 14, 1856. 

55. New York Herald, July 6, 1838. 


Cow-Towns and Mining-Camps 

1. E. C. Abbott ("Teddy Blue") and Helen H. Smith, We Pointed Them 
North (New York, 1939), 257. 

NOTES 407 

2. See John A. and Alan Lomax, Cowboy Songs (New York, 1938). 

3. William Wright (Dan De Quille), The Big Bonanza (Hartford, 1876), 


4. Ibid., 29-30. 

5. Allan Nevins, The Emergence of Modern America (A History of Ameri- 

can Life, VIII) (New York, 1927), 137. 

6. Samuel L. Clemens (Mark Twain), Roughing It (New York, 1899), 

II, 27-28. 

7. Philip Ashton Rollins, The Cowboy (New York, 1922), 80. 

8. Herbert Asbury, Sucker's Progress (New York, 1938), 316. 

9. A. K. McClure, Three Thousand Miles Through the Rockies (Phila- 

delphia, 1869), 412, 414. 

10. Wells Drury, An Editor on the Comstock Lode (New York, 1936), 88. 

11. McClure, Three Thousand Miles Through the Rockies, 424-25. 

12. Drury, An Editor on the Comstock Lode, 91. 

13. Quoted ibid., 299-300. 

14. Constance Rourke, Troupers of the Gold Coast (New York, 1928), 57. 

15. Ibid., 43. 

16. Ibid., passim. 

17. Drury, An Editor on the Comstock Lode, 54-61; Bernard De Voto, 

Mark Twain's America (Boston, 1932), 123-26. 

18. George D. Lyman, The Saga of the Comstock Lode (New York, 1934), 

19. Rollins, The Cowboy, 40. 

20. Ibid., 174#; Hough, The Story of the Cowboy, 225f . 

21. Lomax, Cowboy Songs, xvi. 

22. Rollins, The Cowboy, 172; Lomax, Cowboy Songs, 5; Abbott and Smith, 

We Pointed Them North, 260. 

23. Rollins, The Cowboy, 174-89; Hough, The Story of the Cowboy, 


24. Hough, The Story of the Cowboy, 238. 

25. Rollins, The Cowboy, 296-97. 

26. Hough, The Story of the Cowboy, 261. 

27. Abbott and Smith, We Pointed Them North, 123. 

28. Ibid., 126. 

29. Ibid., 9. 

30. Hough, The Story of the Cowboy, 252-53. 

31. Robert M. Wright, Dodge City (Dodge City, 1913), 149. 

32. Lomax, Cowboy Songs, 169. 

The Rise of Sports 

1. The Nation, III, 115. 

2. Pamphlet material on James L. Plimpton, New York Public Library. 

3. Arthur C. Cole, The Irrepressible Conflict (A History of American 

Life, VII) (New York, 1934), 187. See also Lowell Offering, I, 61. 

4. Quoted in D. R. Hundley, Social Relations in Our Southern States 

(New York, 1860), 41. 


5. Thomas Wentworth Higginson, "Saints and Their Bodies," Atlantic 

Monthly, I (1858), 587. 

6. New York Clipper, July 5, 1856; Edward Everett, Orations and 

Speeches on Various Occasions (Boston, 1856-72), III, 407, quoted 
in Cole, The Irrepressible Conflict, 188. 

7. Harper's Monthly, XIII (1856), 642, 646. 

8. Atlantic Monthly, I (1858), 881. 

9. New York Herald, July 12, 1858, quoted in Cole, The Irrepressible 

Conflict, 189. 

10. Frederick L. Paxson, "The Rise of Sports/' Mississippi Valley Historical 

Review, IV, 143-68. 

11. Outing, II (1883), 468. 

12. Independent, LII (1900), 1361. 

13. W. E. Baxter, America and the Americans (London, 1855), 99, quoted 

in Cole, The Irrepressible Conflict, 188. 

14. Robert W. Henderson, "How Baseball Began," Bulletin of New York 

Public Library, XLI (1937), 288, and "Baseball and Rounders," 
ibid., XLIII (1939), 303-14; Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey (Bos- 
ton, 1898), 8. 

15. Horatio Smith, Festivals, Games and Amusements (New York, 1833), 


16. William R. Wister, Some Reminiscences of Cricket in Philadelphia 

before 1861 ( Philadelphia, 1904), 6-9; Charles A. Peverelly, The 
Book of American Pastimes (New York, 1866), 529#; Spirit of the 
Times, January 24, 1857. 

17. In addition to articles by R. W. Henderson, cited above, see Ralph 

E. Renaud, "Baseball's Centenary," New York Times Magazine, 
June 11, 1939, 11$; A. G. Spalding, America's National Game (New 
York, 1911), 19-23, 29-41; Francis C. Richter,. History and Records 
of Baseball (Philadelphia, 1914), 17-31; John M. Ward, Baseball 
(Philadelphia, 1889), 9-34; George Wright, "Sketch of the National 
Game of Baseball," Records of the Columbia Historical Society, 
XXIII (1920), 80ff. 

18. "By-Laws of Knickerbocker Club," in Spalding Collection, New York 

Public Library. 

19. Quoted in Richter, History and Records of Baseball, 32. 

20. Spirit of the Times, January 10, 1857; Peverelly, The Book of American 

Pastimes, 461; article on Alfred J. Reach in Dictionary of American 

21. Spirit of the Times, December 27, 1856; New York Clipper, July 19, 


22. Article on Henry Wright in Dictionary of American Biography. 

23. Spirit of the Times, March 24, 1860; Peverelly, The Book of Ameri- 

can Pastimes, 353. 

24. Spirit of the Times, December 6, 1856; Frank Leslie's Illustrated 

Newspaper, April 26, 1856. 

25. Spalding, America's National Game, 71; A. H. Spink, The National 

Game (St. Louis, 1910), 3. 

26. Spirit of the Times, July 28, October 6, September 8, 1860; Spalding, 

America's National Game, 80-81. 

NOTES 409 

27. Peverelly, The Book of American Pastimes, 508, 337; The Galaxy, VI 

(1868), 563, and Sports and Games, III (1872), 112, quoted in 
Frank Luther Mott, A History of American Magazines (New York 
and Cambridge, 1930- ), III, 217. 

28. Richter, History and Records of Baseball, 37-39; Spalding, America's 

National Game, 137-39. 

29. Spalding, America's National Game, 210-14; Richter, History and Rec- 

ords of Baseball, 40. 

30. Samuel L. Clemens (Mark Twain), Speeches (1923), 145, 

31. George Makepeace Towle, American Society (London, 1870), II, 40; 

Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, quoted in Lloyd Lewis and 
Henry Justin Smith, Oscar Wilde Discovers America (New York, 
1936), 381. 

32. How to Play Field and Parlor Croquet (1865). 

33. Towle, American Society, II, 39. 

34. The Nation, III, 115. 

35. Harpers Weekly, September 13, 1879, quoted in John A. Rrout, An- 

nals of American Sport (The Pageant of America, XV) (New 
Haven, 1929), 164. 

36. Outing, II, 468. 

37. William Patten (editor), The Book of Sport (New York, 1901), 309#. 

38. Pamphlet material on James L. Plimpton in the New York Public 


39. Spalding's Manual, 1884. 

40. San Francisco Evening Bulletin, January 10, 1891. 

41. Harper's Weekly, XXXIII (1889), 463. 

42. Outing (The Wheelman), 1 (1882), 22-29, 69-70, IX, 390; Tribune 

Book of Open-Air Sports (New York, 1887), 455; L, H. Porter, 
Wheels and Wheeling (New York, 1892), 36-96. 

43. Harper's Monthly, July, 1881, 285. 

44. Outing, IV, 471; Walter G. Kendall, Four Score fears of Sport (Bos- 

ton, 1933), 79#. 

45. Outing (The Wheelman), I (1882), 22-29. 

46. Ibid., I, 57. 

47. World Almanac, 1890, 182-84. 

48. Professor Hoffman, Tips to Tricyclists. 

49. Porter, Wheels and Wheeling, advertisements. 

50. Outing (The Wheelman), I (1882), 29. 

51. Andrew M. F. Davis, "College Athletics," Atlantic Monthly, May, 

1883, 677-84, 

52. Quoted in Outing, XLVTI (1905), 247. 

53. William Saltonstall Scudder, "An Historical Sketch of the Oneida 

Football Club of Boston 1862-65," deposited with the Massachu- 
setts Historical Society, 1926. 

54. Parke H. Davis, Football, the Intercollegiate Game (New York, 1911), 


55. Ibid., 35-37. 

56. Ibid., 65-72; Walter Camp and Lorin F. Deland, Football (New York, 

1896), 63-76. 

57. Davis, Football, 72. 


58. Ira N. Hollis, "Intercollegiate Athletics," Atlantic Monthly, XC (1902), 
534-44; Frederick L. Paxson, "The Rise of Sports/ 7 Mississippi Valley 
Historical Review, IV, 143-68; John A. Krout, "Some Reflections on 
the Rise of Sport," Proceedings of the Association of History 
Teachers of the Middle States and Maryland, No, 26 (1928), 84n. 

The New Order 

1. Outing, XVH, 229. 

2. William H. Nugent, "The Sports Section," American Mercury, XVI 

(1929), 336-37. See also unpublished study of newspaper content 
1878-1898, Arthur M. Schlesinger, The Rise of the City (A History 
of American Life, X) (New York, 1933), 199. 

3. James F. Muirhead, The Land of Contrasts (Boston, 1898), 107-10. 

4. Outing, IV, 470, 476; VI, 614. 

5. New York Tribune, May, 1890. 

6. Godey's Lady's Book, July, 1890. 

7. George Makepeace Towle, American Society (London, 1870), II, 87. 

See also ibid., II, 15, 22, 40, 151. 

8. James Bryce, The American Commonwealth (New York, 1888), II, 

665, 666. 

9. Paul de Rousiers, American Life (New York, 1892), 330. 

10. Paul Blouet (Max O'Rell), Jonathan and His Continent (New York, 

1884), 51. 

11. Nathaniel H. Egleston, Villages and Village Life (New York, 1878), 


12. Mark Sullivan, Our Times (New York, 1925-35), II, 24-25. 

13. J. W. Buel, Metropolitan Life Unveiled (San Francisco, 1883), 26. 

14. Josiah W. Leeds, The Theatre (Philadelphia, 1884), 70, 82. 

15. Quoted in Wilbert L. Anderson, The Country Town (New York, 1914) 


16. Literary Digest, XII (December 21, 1895), 228. 

17. Josiah Strong, The Challenge of the City (New York, 1907), 222-23. 

18. N. S. Shaler, The United States of America (New York, 1894), II, 


19. Towle, American Society, II, 25; William Bayard Hale, "A Study of 

Church Entertainment," Forum, XX (1896), 570-77. See also arti- 
cle in North American Review, quoted in Literary Digest, XIV 
(January 9, 1897), 307. 

20. Hale, loc. cit. 9 571. 

21. Leeds, The Theatre, 78, 81. 

22. Bryce, The American Commonwealth, II, 572. 

23. Schlesinger, The Rise of the City, 335, 

24. Samuel Lane Loomis, Modern Cities (New York, 1887), 104. 

25. Quoted in Leeds, The Theatre, 67-68. 

26. Quoted in Allan Nevins (editor), American Social History as Recorded 

by British Travellers (New York, 1923), 498. 

NOTES 411 

27. Horace Greeley, Recollection* of a Busy Life (New York, 1873), 118. 

28. Quoted in Jesse Lyman Hurlbut, The Story of Chautauqua (New York, 

1921), 184. 


1. Fifteenth Census of the United States, I, 8, 9, 18-19. 

2. Arthur M. Sclilesinger, The Rise of the City (A History of American 

Life, X) (New York, 1933), 65, 72-73. 

3. Ibid., 67-70. 

4. Quoted in George C. D. Odell, Annals of the New York Stage (New 

York, 1927- ), VII, 236-37. 

5. Alvin F. Harlow, Old Bowery Days (New York, 1931), 465. 

6. Harper's Weekly, May 10, 1890, 370-72. 

7. Chicago by Day and Night, The Pleasure Seekers Guide to the Paris 

of America (Chicago, 1892), 34-42. 

8. Owen Davis, I'd Like to Do It Again (New York, 1931), 105. 

9. Harlow, Old Bowery Days, 459. 

10. Henry Collins Brown, New York in the Elegant Eighties, Valentine's 

Manual of New 'York (New York, 1927), 138-39. 

11. Richard J. Walsh, The Making of Buffalo Bill (Indianapolis, 1928), 

181, 227f . 

12. Punchinello, I (1870), 116, quoted in Frank Luther Mott, A History 

of American Magazines (New York and Cambridge, 1930- ), III, 

13. George Makepeace Towle, American Society (London, 1870), II, 21; 

Olive Logan, Apropos of Women and the Theatre (New York, 
1869), 136. 

14. Schlesinger, The Rise of the City, 300n. 

15. Edwin Milton Royle, "The Vaudeville Theatre/' Scribner's, XXVI 


16. M. B. Leavitt, Fifty Years in Theatrical Management (New York, 

1912), 185. 

17. Ibid., 209. 

18. Harlow, Old Bowery Days, 466. 

19. Leavitt, Fifty Years in Theatrical Management, 194$. See also articles 

on B. F. Keith and F. F. Proctor in Dictionary of American Biog- 

20. Royle, loc cit., 495. 

21. Harlow, Old Bowery Days, 456-59. 

22. Variety, December 16, 1905, See also article on B. F. Keith in Die- 

tionary of American Biography. 

23. Harlow, Old Boweru Days, 473. 

24. Chicago by Day and Night. 

25. Harlow, Old Bowery Days, 454. 

26. Harper's Weekly, XL (1896), 757-58; Henry Collins Brown, The 

Golden Nineties, Valentine's Manual of New York (New York, 
1928), 57. 


27. Harper's Weekly, XXXIII (1889), 746. 

28. J. A. Dacus and James W. Buel, A Tour of St. Louis (St. Louis, 1878), 


29. "The Trolley Park" Cosmopolitan, XXXIII (1902), 265-72; Street 

Railway Review, XVI (1906), 121-22. 

30. See article on George C. THyou in Dictionary of American Biography. 

31. Quoted in A. G. Spalding, America's National Game (New York, 

1911), 451. 

32. Harpers Weekly, XXX (1886), 202. 

33. Ibid., XXXIV (1890), 356. 

34. Spalding, America's National Game, 224-25. 

35. Ibid., 269-81. 

36. Quoted ibid., 467. 

37. Ibid., 251-61. 

38. Ibid., 442. 

39. Brown, The Golden Nineties, 331-32. 

40. Robert F. Kelley, American Rowing (New York, 1932), 37 f. 

41. James F. Muirhead, The Land of Contrasts (Boston, 1898), 158. 

42. See R. F. Dibble, John L. Sullivan (Boston, 1925). 

43. Ibid., 59. 

44. Ibid., 42-43. 

45. Quoted in Brown, The Golden Nineties, 382. 

46. Quoted in. Literary Digest, VIII (December 23, 1893), 152. 

47. Josiah Strong, The Challenge of the City (New York, 1907), 115. 

World of Fashion 

1. George Makepeace Towle, American Society (London, 1870), I, 292#.. 

2. Mrs. John King Van Rensselaer, The Social Ladder (New York, 1924), 


3. Frederick Townsend Martin, The Passing of the Idle Rich (New York, 

1911), 51-52. 

4. Emily Faithfull, Three Visits to America (Edinburgh, 1884), 216-17, 

quoted in Arthur M. Schlesinger, The Rise of the City (A History 
of American Life, X) (New York, 1933), 151. 

5. George D. Lyman, The Saga of the Comstock Lode (New York, 1934), 


6. Dixon Wecter, The Saga of American Society (New York, 1937), 338- 


7. Ward McAllister, Society as I Have Found It (New York, 1890) passim. 

8. Ibid., 350. 

9. Quoted in Literary Digest, XII (November 30, 1895), 146. 

10. McAllister, Society as I Have Found It, 369-81. 

11. Martin, The Passing of the Idle Rich, 30-31. 

12. Wecter, The Saga of American Society, 369-71; Henry Collins Brown, 

The Golden Nineties, Valentine's Manual of New Yorfc (New York, 
1928), 71. See also Charles A. and Mary Beard, The Rise of Ameri- 
can Civilization (New York, 1927), II, 392-93. 

NOTES 413 

13. Brown, The Golden Nineties, 108-15; Paul Blouet (Max O'Rell) 

Jonathan and His Continent (New York, 1884), 165-67; Francis 
Joseph Daly, The Life of Augustin Daly (New York, 1917), 119; 
George C. D. Odell, Annals of the New York Stage (New York, 
1927- ), VIII, 429, 559, IX, 392. 

14. John Rankln Towse, Sixty Years of the Theatre (New York, 1916), 

96-88; Henry Austin Clapp, Reminiscences of a Dramatic Critic 
(Boston, 1902), 50ff; Arthur A. Homblow, History of the American 
Theatre (Philadelphia, 1919), II, 318-19; Odell, Annals of the 
New York Stage, VII, 203, X, 570. 

15. Harpers Weekly, XXXIII (1889), 463; Atlantic Monthly, iXLIII 

(1879), 453-58; Hornblow, History of the American Theatre, II, 
318-19; William Winter, The Wallet of Time (New York, 1916), I, 
27-29; Odell, Annals of the New York Stage, VIII, 559. 

16. See Norman Hapgood, The Stage in America, 1897-1900 (New York, 


17. Odell, Annals of the New York Stage, X, 592, 614, 651, 694. 

18. Henry E. Krehbiel, Chapters of Opera (New York, 1909), 86. 

19. Irving Kolodin, The Metropolitan Opera (New York, 1936), 12. 

20. Ibid., 2-3. 

21. Quoted ibid., 15-16. 

22. Henry C. Lahee, Annals of Music in America (Boston, 1922), 67. 

23. See Don C. Seitz, The James Gordon Bennetts (New York, 1928). 

24. Outing, III, 354. 

25. Robert P. Elmer, Archery (Philadelphia, 1923), 135. 

26. Tribune Book of Open-Air Sports, 106. 

27. Wecter, The Saga of American Society, 439. 

28. Scribner's, XVII (1895), 692#; Harper's Weekly, XXXIX (1895), 63, 

29. Wecter, The Saga of American Society, 440. 

30. Caspar Whitney, "Evolution of the Country Club," Harper's, XC 

(1894), 16#; Robert Dunn, "Hie Country Club," Outing, XLVII 
(1905), 160-73. 

31. Jerome D. Travers and James R. Crowell, The Fifth Estate (New 

York, 1936), 22. 

32. H, C. Chatfield-Taylor, "The Middle West Discovers Outdoors," Out- 

ing, XLV (1904), 441-49; Harper's Weekly, XL (1896), 761-62. 

33. Century, XLIV (1892), 602; Scribner's, XVII (1895), 531#y Outing, 

XXX, 249. 

34. New York Tribune, November, 28, 1890. 

35. Harper's Weekly, XXXVII (1893), 1184. 

36. William H. Nugent, "The Sports Section," American Mercury, XVI 

(1929), 337. 

37. A. M. Weyand, American Football (New York, 1926), 45#. 

38. The Nation, November 20, 1890, 51. 

39. Quoted in Literary Digest, XII (November 30, 1895), 128. 

40. James F. Muirhead, The Land of Contrasts (Boston, 1898), 114-16. 

41. Quoted in Literary Digest, VIII (1894), 428, 

42. Harper's Weekly, XXXVII (1893), 1236. 

43. Weyand, American Football, 79#. 


Main Street 

1. William Allen White, "A Typical Kansas Community/' Atlantic 

Monthly, LXXX (1897), 171-77. 

2. Chelsea Telegraph Pioneer, September 25, 1875, March 4, 1876. 

3. North American Review, quoted in Literary Digest, XIV (January 9, 

1897), 307. 

4. Eighty Pleasant Evenings, Boston, 1898. 

5. Robert S. and Helen Merrell Lynd, Middletown (New York, 1929), 


6. Leger D. Mayne (William B. Dick), What Shall We Do Tonight 

(New York, 1873); Lucretia Peabody Hale, Fagots for the Fireside 
(New York, 1895). 

7. S. C. de Soisson, A Parisian in America (Boston, 1896), 186, quoted 

in Arthur M. Schlesinger, The Rise of the City (A History of Ameri- 
can Life, X) (New York, 1933), 305. 

8. For interesting discussion of these popular songs, and many specimens, 

see Mark Sullivan, Our Times (New York, 1925-35), II, 154-83, 
and also Sigmund Spaeth, Read 'Em and Weep (Garden City, 1926), 
and Weep Some More, My Lady (Garden City, 1927). 

9. Sullivan, Our Times, III, 399. 

10. John Philip Sousa, Marching Along (Boston, 1928), Chap. iv. 

11. Albert G. Stevens, The Cyclopaedia of Fraternities (New York, 1899), 

v; B. H. Meyer, "Fraternal Beneficiary Societies in the United 
States," American Journal of Sociology, VI (1901), 646-61. 

12. See Charles W. Ferguson, Fifty Million Brothers (New York, 1937). 

13. H. C. Merwin, "A National Vice," Atlantic Monthly, LXXI (1893), 

769; W. B. Hill, "The Great American Safety Valve," Century, 
XLIV (1892), 383-84. 

14. Paul de Rousiers, American Life (New York, 1892), 356. 

15. J. C. Croly, The History of the Women's Club Movement (New 

York, 1898), 15, 88; Nineteenth Century, XLVII, 847. 

16. Atlantic Monthly, XLVI (1880), 724-25. 

17. Therese Blanc, The Condition of Women in the United States (Bos- 

ton, 1895), 107, quoted in Schlesinger, The Rise of the City, 143. 

18. "Ready-made Housekeeping," Good Housekeeping, V (1887), 266, 

quoted in Schlesinger, The Rise of the City, 132-33. 

19. New Yorfc Dramatic Mirror, January 11, 1890. 

20. Jesse Lyman Hurlbut, The Story of Chautauqua (New York, 1921), 

247, 384-86. 

21. Quoted in Gay MacLaren, Morally We Roll Along (Boston, 1938), 78. 

22. Ibid., 151, 169. 

23. Schlesinger, The Rise of the City, 174. See also James B. Pond, Eccen- 

tricities of Genius (New York, 1900), 5ff. 

24. Schlesinger, The Rise of the City, 291tf; New York Dramatic Mirror, 

March 25, 1899. 

25. New YorJfc Dramatic Mirror, December 10, 1898. 

26. White, loc. cit., 174. 

NOTES 415 

27. New York Dramatic Mirror, January 11, 1890. 

28. Marie Dressier, My Own Story (Boston, 1934), 40#. 

29. J. Frank Davies, "Tom Shows/' Scribner's, LXXVII (1925), 350. 

30. W. W. Stout, "Little Eva Is Seventy-Five," Saturday Evening Post, CC 

(October 8, 1927), 10#. 

31. Lynd and Lynd, Middletown, 266. 

32. Everett Dick, The Sod-House Frontier, 1854-1890 (New York, 1937), 


33. James A. Naismith, "Basketball," in Encyclopaedia Britannica. 

34. Outing, XXXI, 224. 

35. Booth Tarkington, The Gentleman from Indiana (New York, 1899), 


36. Twelfth Census of the United States, X, 328, cited in Schlesinger, 

The Rise of the City, 313. 

37. L. H. Porter, Wheels and Wheeling (New York, 1892), 9. 

38. "The Rule of the Bicycle," Scribner's, XIX (1896), 783-84. 

39. Joseph R. Bishop, "Social and Economic Influence of the Bicycle," 

Forum, XXI (1896), 680-89. 

40. Literary Digest, XIII (1896), 361. 

41. Lillian Campbell Davidson, Handbook for Lady Cyclists (London, 

1896), 27. 

42. Godey's Lady's Book, CXX (1890), 338; Dr. Henry J. Garrigues, 

"Woman and the Bicycle," Forum, XX (1896), 583; Outing, XVII 
(1891), 305; Harper's Weekly, XXXVIII (1894), 710. 

43. Scribner's, XIX (1896), 783. 

44. Twelfth Census of the United States, X, 329, cited in Schlesinger, 

The Rise of the City, 314. 

45. Vermont Phcenix (Brattleboro), January 21, 1898. 

Farm and Countryside 

1. Nathaniel H. Egleston, Villages and Village Life (New York, 1878), 

35, 42. 

2. Quoted ibid,, 25. 

3. See series of articles in the Atlantic Monthly: "The Problems of Rural 

New England," LXXIX (1897), 577-98, and "Hie Future of Rural 
New England," LXXIX (1897), 74-83. 

4. Hamlin Garland, A Son of the Middle Border (New York, 1917), 21, 

123, 209. 

5. Allan Nevins, The Emergence of Modern America (A History of 

American Life, VIII) (New York, 1927), 169-71. 

6. Everett Dick, The SodrHouse Frontier, 1854-1890 (New York, 1937), 


7. Garland, A Son of the Middle Border, 94. See also Grant Showerman, 

A Country Chronicle (New 'York, 1916), 46-52. 
'8. Mark Sullivan, Our Times (New York, 1925-35), II, 166. 
9. Philip Morgan, "The Problems of Rural New England," Atlantic 
Monthly,. LXXIX (1897), 377-88. 


10. Sullivan, Our Times, II, 210-11. 

11. Garland, A Son of the Middle Border, 165*66. 

12. Ibid., 165-66, 

13. Nauvoo (Illinois) Rustler, July 1, 1890. 

14. Henry Wheeler Shaw, Josh Billings on Ice and Other Things (New 

York, 1868), quoted in Wayne Caldwell Neely, The Agricultural 
Fair (New York, 1935), 193. 

15. Neely, The Agricultural Fair, 83, 89, 96. See also article on Elkanah 

Watson in Dictionary of American Biography. 

16. John A. Krout, Annals of American Sport (The Pageant of America, 

XV) (New Haven, 1929), 51-53. 

17. Quoted in Neely, The Agricultural Fair, 204. 

18. Alvan F. Sanborn, "The Problems of Rural New England/' Atlantic 

Monthly, LXXIX (1897), 595. 

19. Neely, The Agricultural Fair, 107. 

20. Garland, A Son of the Middle Border, 167-68. 

21. Nelson Lloyd, "The County Fair/' Scribners Magazine, XXXIV (1903), 


22. Earl Chapin May, The Circus pom Rome to Ringling (New York, 

1932), 113-14. 

23. P. T. Barnum, Struggles and Triumphs (Buffalo, 1889), 284; M. R, 

Werner, Barnum (New York, 1927), 306-10; May, The Circus, 

24. Barnum, Struggles and Triumphs, 284, 331, 334. 

25. Ibid., 356. 

26. Ibid., 332f; Werner, Barnum, 333#. 

27. May, The Circus, 224ff; New York Dramatic Mirror, 1890, advertise- 


28. Nauvoo (Illinois) Rustler, June 17, 1890. 

29. Carson Appeal, May 29, 1875, quoted in Wells Drury, An Editor on 

the Comstock Lode (New York, 1936), 303. 

30. For two colorful contemporary descriptions of circus day see Booth 

Tarkington, A Gentleman from Indiana (New York, 1899), 177-43 
passim; Hamlin Garland, Boy Life on the Prairie (New York, 1899), 
231-51 passim. 

81. Quoted in Sullivan, Our Times, II, 171. 

32. Garland, A Son of the Middle Border, 135-37. 

The Growth of the Movies 

1. Ben J. Lubschez, The Story of the Motion Picture (New York 1920), 

43; Outing, LXIV (July, 1914), 499-505; Paul Schubert, The Elec- 
tric Word (New York, 1928), 3#. 

2. Benjamin B. Hampton, A History of the Movies (New York, 1931), 7. 

3. Ibid., 11; Terry Ramsaye, A Million and One Nights (New York, 

1926), ^233; "The Motion Picture in Its Economic and Social 
Aspects/" Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social 
Science, CXXVIH (1926), 7. 

NOTES 417 

4. Hampton, A History of the Movies, 12. 

5. Ibid., 44-45; Ramsaye, A Million and One Nights, 429-30. 

6. Barton W. Currie, "The Nickel Madness," Harper's Weekly, LI (1907), 

1246-47; George E. Walsh, "Moving Picture Drama for the Multi- 
tude," Independent, LXIV (February 6, 1908). 

7. Quoted in Mark Sullivan, Our Times (New York, 1925-35), IU, 552- 


8. Hampton, A History of the Movies, 57; Walsh, loc. cit, 306. 

9. Ramsaye, A Million and One Nights, 256. 

10. Ibid., 259. 

11. Ibid., 473tf. 

12. Sullivan, Our Times, HI, 551-52. 

13. Currie, loc. cit., 1247; Review of Reviews, XXXVOT (December, 1908), 


14. Hampton, A History of the Movies, 29-39. 

15. Walsh, loc. cit., 307; Lubschez, Story of the Motion Picture, 58; An- 

nals of American Academy of Political and Social Science, CXXVIII 
(1926), 10; Ramsaye, A Million and One Nights, 281-89, 363-78, 

16. Hampton, A History of the Movies 9 31; Ramsaye, A Million and One 

Nights, 416ff. 

17. Walsh, loc. cit., 307-08. 

18. Ramsaye, A Million and One Nights, 474. 

19. Sullivan, Our Times, III, 553. 

20. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 

CXXVIII (1926), 11. 

21. Hampton, A History of the Movies, B6ff; Ramsaye, A Million and One 

Nights, 544-45, 547-49, 605. 

22. Hampton, A History of the Movies, 57, 92. 

23. Ramsaye, A Million and One Nights, 645#; Marie Dressier, My Own 

Story (Boston, 1934), 168-69. 

24. Ramsaye, A Million and One Nights, 734. 

25. Ibid., 661; Pearl White, Just Me (New York, 1919). 

26. Hampton, A History of the Movies, 130; Ramsaye, A Million and One 

Nights, 635# . 

27. Ramsaye, A Million and One Nights, 675-77; Hampton, A History of 

the Movies, 333, 

28. Hampton, A History of the Movies, 342. 

29. Ramsaye, A Million and One Nights, 748. 

30. Ibid., 625. 

31. Frederick Lewis Allen, Only Yesterday (New York, 1931), 101. 

32. Robert S. and Helen Merrell Lynd, Middletoton (New York, 1929), 


33. Edgar Dale, The Content of Motion Pictures (New York, 1935), 17, 


34. Allen, Only Yesterday, 102; Will H. Hays, "The Motion Picture In- 

dustry," Review of Reviews, LXVII (1923). 65-80. 

35. Hampton, A History of the Movies, 362. 

36. Quoted ibid., 354-55. 


38. Julius Weinberger, "Economic Aspects of Recreation/* reprint from 

Harvard Business Review, Summer, 1937, 450, 454; Preston W. 
Slosson, The Great Crusade and After (A History of American 
Life, XII) (New York, 1931), 394; Hampton, A History of the 
Movies, 362; Film Daily Yearbook, 1939. 

39. Albert McCleery and Carl Click, Curtains Going Up (New York, 

1939), 332. 

40. "The Hay's Office," Fortune, XVIII (December, 1938), 68ft Ben Ray 

Redman, in Saturday Review of Literature, XIX (December 31, 
1938), 3; J. P. McEvoy, "The Back of Me Hand to You," Saturday 
Evening Post, CCXI (December 24, 1938), Sff. 

41. Current History, L (March, 1939), 47. 

42. Charles A. and Mary Beard, America in Midpassage (New York, 1939), 


A "Nation on Wheels 

1. Mark Sullivan, Our Times (New York, 1925-35), I, 497. 

2. Country Life, XIX (January, 1911), advertisements. 

3. Ibid., XII (1907), 76, 552. 

4. Sullivan, Our Times, I, 497. 

5. Ibid., Ill, 431. 

6. Country Life, XIX (January, 1911), 241-42. 

7. Ibid., XII (May, 1907), 76. 

8. Ibid., X (October, 1906), 702; XII (June, 1907), 198. 

9. Harold Underwood Faulkner, The Quest for Social Justice (A History 

of American Life, XI) (New York, 1931), 170. 

10. Country Life, XII (June, 1907), 198. 

11. Sullivan, Our Times, I, 501. 

12. Country Life, XII (October, 1907), 683-84. 

13. Ibid., XII (October, 1907), 684. 

14. Sullivan, Our Times, IV, 63, 64. 

15. Automobile Facts and Figures, 1939. 

16. Frederick Lewis Allen, Only Yesterday (New York, 1931), 163. 

17. Automobile Facts and Figures, 1939. 

18. Preston W. Slosson, The Great Crusade and After (A History of Ameri- 

can Life, XII) (New York, 1931), 238-39; Recent Social Trends in 
the United States, Report of the President's Research Committee 
(New York, 1933), II, 921, 950f. 

19. Robert S. and Helen Merrell Lynd, Mlddletoum (New York, 1929), 259. 

20. Recent Social Trends, II, 920; Jesse F. Steiner, "Research Memo- 

randum on Recreation in the Depression," Social Science Research 
Council Bulletin, No. 32, 1937, 64. 

21. Slosson, The Great Crusade and After, 237-38. 

22. "Automobile Trailers," The Index (New York Trust Company) XVII 

(1937), 63ff. 

23. Julius Weinberger, "Economic Aspects of Recreation/' Harvard Busi- 

ness Review, Summer, 1937, 455-56. 

24. Lynd and Lynd, Middletown, 255-56. 

NOTES 419 

25. C. E. M. Joad, Diogenes; or the Future of Leisure (London, 1928), 
42, quoted in George A. Lundberg, Leisure-A Suburban Study 
(New York, 1934), 63. 

On the Air 

1. Paul Schubert, The Electric Word: the Rise of Radio (New York, 

1928), 194-95. 

2. Alfred P. Morgan, The Pageant of Electricity (New York, 1939), 


3. Schubert, The Electric Word, I97ff; Preston W. Slosson, The Great 

Crusade and After (A History of American Life, XII) (New York, 
1931), 389. 

4. Julius Weinberger, "Economic Aspects of Recreation/* Harvard Busi- 

ness Review, Summer, 1937, 450. 

5. Slosson, The Great Crusade and After, 389n. 

6. A. N. Goldsmith and A. C. Lescarboura, This Thing Called Broad- 

casting (New York, 1930), 42. 

7. Quoted in Frederick Lewis Allen, Only Yesterday (New York, 1931), 


8. "'Listening In/ Our New National Pastime/* Review of Reviews, 

LXVII (1923), 52. 

9. Orange Edward McMeans, "The Great Audience Invisible/* Scribners, 

LXXIII (1923), 410-16. 

10. Goldsmith and Lescarboura, This Thing Called Broadcasting, 99-101; 

Samuel L. Rothafel and R. F. Yates, Broadcasting Its New Day 
(New York, 1925) passim. 

11. New Republic, XL (October 8, 1924), 135-36. 

12. Goldsmith and Lescarboura, This Thing Called Broadcasting, Y77f; 

Slosson, The Great Crusade and After, 390-92. 

13. Charles Merz, The Great American Bandwagon (New York, 1925), 


14. Goldsmith and Lescarboura, This Thing Called Broadcasting, 189. 

15. Weinberger, loc. cit., 452. 

16. Goldsmith and Lescarboura, This Thing Called Broadcasting, 2Q9ff. 

17. For studies of radio programs see George A. Lundberg, "The Content 

of Radio Programs," Social Forces, VII (1928), 58-60; Hadley 
Cantril and Gordon W. Allport, The Psychology of Radio (New 
York, 1935), 75-76. 

18. Cantril and AJlport, Psychology of Radio, 85; Weinberger, loc. cit., 


19. New Yorfc Herald Tribune, July 30, 1939, vi, 8. 

20. New Yorfc Herald Tribune Magazine, July 30, 1939, 9. 

21. Weinberger, loc. cit, 452. 

22. The Leisure of 5,000 People, A Report of a Study of Leisure Time 

Activities and Desires, National Recreation Association (1934), 4. 

23. Cantril and Allport, Psychology of Radio, 87-88. 


The Great American Band-Wagon 

1. Frederick Lewis Allen, Only Yesterday (New York, 1931), 186. 

2. Mr. and Mrs. Vernon Castle, Modern Dancing (New York, 1914), 

3. Frederick Lewis Allen, 'When America Learned to Dance," Scribner's, 

CII (1937), 11-17. 

4. Ibid., 17. 

5. Mr. and Mrs. Vernon Castle, Modern Dancing, 38. 

6. Wilder Hobson, American Jazz Music (New York, 1939), 15; Henry 

O. Osgood, So This Is Jazz (Boston, 1926), 10. 

7. Paul Whiteman, "In Defense of Jazz," New York Times, March 13, 

1927, quoted in Preston W. Slosson, The Great Crusade and After 
(A History of American Life, XII) (New York, 1931), 283. 

8. Paul Whiteman, Jazz (New York, 1926), 17#; Hobson, American Jazz 

Music, Q2ff. 

9. Mark Sullivan, Our Times, VI (New York, 1925-35), 479-80. 

10. Quoted in Allen, Only Yesterday, 90. 

11. Sullivan, Our Times, VI, 444f . 

12. Ibid., VI, 489. 

13. Stanley Walker, The Night Club Era (New York, 1933), passim. 

14. Paul G. Cressy, The Taxi Dance Hall (Chicago, 1932), 109$. 

15. Walter S. Hiatt, "Billions-Just for Fun," Cottiers, LXXIV (October 25, 

1924), 31. 

16. Quoted in Allen, Only "Yesterday, 90. 

17. New Republic, XXXV (August 1, 1923), 255-56. 

18. Prosper Buranelli and Margaret Petherbridge, "How the Crossword 

Craze Started," Colliers, LXXV (January 31, 1925), 12. 

19. Beatrice Barmby, "What It Means to be a Book Publisher at 29," 

McClure's, LIX (1927), 63, quoted in Slosson, The Great Crusade 
and After, 285. 

20. Allen, Only Yesterday, 191-92. 

21. Kathleen Norris, "I Know a Game," Ladies' Home Journal, XLV (Sep- 

tember, 1928), 14. 

22. American Mercury, VI, 234. 

23. Elmer Davis, "Miniature Golf to the Rescue," Harpers, CLXII 

(December, 1930), 5. 

24. Ibid., 14. 

25. Elmer Davis, "Purest of Pleasures: Contract," Harper's, CLXV (1932), 


26. Robert S. and Helen Merrell Lynd, Middletown (New York, 1929), 


27. Milton C. Work, Contract Bridge (Philadelphia, 1927), 1-3. 

28. Ely Culbertson, "North West East South," American Magazine, CXIII 

(1932), 30. 

29. Davis, "Purest of Pleasures," 287. 

30. Literary Digest, October 17, 1931, 31. 

NOTES 421 

31. Catherine Brody, "With Benefit of Clergy," Collier's, CI (May 7, 

1938), Uff. y 

32. Literary Digest, CXXV (January 1, 1938), 32-33. 

33. Thurlow Reed, "Our Great American Sweepstakes," Commonweal, 

XXVIII (May 13, 1938), 67. 

34. Lynd and Lynd, Middletoum, 251. 

35. "Hobbyhorse Hitching Post," Rotarian; Julius Weinberger, "Economic 

Aspects of Recreation," Harvard Business Review, Summer, 1937, 

36. Larry Clinton, "Swing Grows Up," Good Housekeeping, CVII 

(October, 1938), 13. 

37. Current History, August, 1939, 52. 

38. Life, July 24, 1939, 50. 

Sports for All 

1. James Bryce, "America Revisited-Changes of a Quarter Century," 

Outlook, March 25, 1905, in Allan Nevins (editor), American So- 
cial History as Recorded by British Travellers (New York, 1923), 

2. Quoted in Lee F. Hanmer, Public Recreation (Regional Plan of New 

York, V) (New York, 1928). 

3. C. E. Rainwater, The Play Movement in the United States (Chicago, 

1921), 44$; Charles M. Robinson, The Improvement of Towns and 
Cities (New York, 1901), 156$; Recent Social Trends in the United 
States, Report of the President's Research Committee (New York, 
1933), II, 915$; "Public Recreation Facilities," Annals of the Ameri- 
can Academy of Political and Social Science, XXXV (March, 1910). 

4. Report on Progress of the Works Progress Administration Program, 

June 20, 1938, 20-24, 51. 

5. Recreation Yearbook (Recreation, XXXIII, June, 1939), 124$. 

6. For attendance figures and expenditure estimates on sports, see Recent 

Social Trends, II, 947$; Julius Weinberger, "Economic Aspects of 
Recreation," Harvard Business Review, Summer, 1937, 452$; "The 
"Recreational Dollar," Business Week, July 13, 1932; "The Sports 
Industry," The Index (New York Trust Company), XVI (1936), 
127$; John R. Tunis, Sports, Heroes, and Hysterics (New York, 
1928); Frank G. Menke (editor), All Sports Record Book (New 
York, 1935), and Encyclopedia of Sports (1938), 

7. L. H. Weir, Europe at Play (New York, 1937), passim. 

8. John R. Tunis, "The Great God Football," Harper's, CLVII (1928), 


9. Harold Underwood Faulkner, The Quest for Social Justice (A History 

of American Life, XI) (New York, 1931), 291. 

10. Recent Social Trends, II, 930. 

11. Ibid., II, 930; Preston W. Slosson, The Great Crusade and After (A 

History of American Life, XII) (New York, 1931), 274. 

12. Frederick Lewis Allen, Only Yesterday (New York, 1931), 208-09. 


13. Liberty, III (July 17, 1926), quoted in Slosson, The Great Crusade 

and After, 276. 

14. Recent Social Trends, II, 931-32. 

15. World Almanac, 1939. 

16. William Cunningham, "No Wonder They Want to Fight," Colliers, 

LXXIV (September 13, 1924), 14; H. W. Clune, "Palookas and 
Plutocrats," North American Review, CCXXVII (1929), 49-55. See 
also article on Tex Rickard in Dictionary of American Biography. 

17. Allen, Only Yesterday, 210-11. 

18. Article on "Prize-Fighting" (by Gene Tunney) in Encyclopaedia 


19. Literary Digest, LXXXHI (October 4, 1924), 77. 

20. Slosson, The Great Crusade and After, 271. 

21. Recent Social Trends, II, 923; John R. Tunis, "Changing Trends in 

Sports," Harpers, CLXX (1934), 85. See also Encyclopedia of 

22. Arthur B. Reeves, 'What America Spends for Sports," Outing, LVII 

(1910), 304-05. 

23. Recent Social Trends, II, 927; Robert C. Duffus, "The Age of Play," 

Independent, CXII (December 20, 1924), 539-40. 

24. Grantland Rice, "The National Rash," Colliers, LXXXII (October 20, 

1928), 10. 

25. Recent Social Trends, II, 927. 

26. Encyclopedia of Sports. 

27. Recent Social Trends, II, 927-28; Encyclopedia of Sports. 

28. "Softball," Literary Digest, September 11, 1937, 32-33; Frank J. Tay- 

lor, "Fast and Pretty," Collier's, CII (August 20, 1938), 22$. 

29. Arthur M. Schlesinger, The Rise of the City (A History of American 

Life, X) (New York, 1933), 315. 

30. John Kieran, "The Ski's the Limit," American Magazine, CXXIII (Feb- 

ruary, 1937), 28. 

31. Tunis, "Changing Trends in Sports," 75-86; but see also same author's 

"A Nation of Onlookers?" Atlantic Monthly, CLX (1937), 141-50. 

The New Leisure 

1. C. E. M. Joad, Diogenes; or the Future of Leisure (London, 1928), 


2. Jesse F. Steiner, "Research Memorandum on Recreation in the De- 

pression," Social Science Research Council Bulletin, No. 32 (1937), 
29. See also Recent Social Trends in the United States, Report of 
the President's Research Committee (New York, 1933), II, 828-29. 

3. Steiner, loc. cit., 29-30; Report of New York Committee on the Use 

of Leisure Time, National Recovery Administration (1934). 

4. C. Delisle Burns, Leisure in the Modern World (New York, 1932), 

5. See Jay B. Nash, Spectatoritis (New York, 1932); Arthur N, Pack, 

The Challenge of Leisure (New York, 1934); G. B. Cutten, The 

NOTES 423 

Threat of Leisure (New Haven, 1926); George A. Lundberg, 
Leisure A Suburban Study (New York, 1934); Herbert L. May and 
Dorothy Petgen, Leisure and Its Uses (New York, 1928); M. H. and 

E. S. Neumeyer, Leisure and Recreation (New York, 1936); Jesse 

F. Steiner, Americans at Play (New York, 1933); Encyclopedia of 
the Social Sciences (articles on leisure, play, recreation, etc.); Stuart 
Chase, "Play," in Charles A. Beard (editor), Whither Mankind (New 
York, 1928); John R. Tunis, "The Business of American Sport," 
in America as Americans See It (New York, 1932). 

6. Lundberg, Leisure, 17. 

7. Julius Weinberger, "Economic Aspects of Recreation/' Harvard Busi- 

ness Review, Summer, 1937, 452ff. For other discussions on this 
point see Recent Social Trends, II, 949; Edwin E. Slosson, "The 
Amusement Business/' Independent, LVII (July 21, 1904), 134 ff; 
Arthur B. Reeve, "What America Spends for Sport," Outing, LVJI 
(December, 1910), 300ft Walter S. Hiatt, "Billions- Just for Fun/* 
Collier's, LXXIV (October 25, 1924), 31; "The Amusement In- 
dustry," The Index (New York Trust Company), XVII (1937), 
ZQOff ; Chase, "Play/' loc. cit., 337. 

8. The Leisure Hours of 3,000 People, A Report of a Study of Leisure 

Time Activities and Desires, National Recreation Association ( 1934 ) . 
See also Robert S. and Helen Merrell Lynd, Middletown in Transi- 
tion (New York, 1937). 

9. John R. Tunis, "A Nation of Onlookers/' Atlantic Monthly, CLX (1937), 



Academy of Music (New York), 


Adams, Abigail, 28 
Adams, Charles Francis, quoted, 8 
Adams, Franklin P., 337 
Adams, John, attitude toward 

amusements, 44, 61, 230 
Adams, John Quincy, attitude toward 

amusements, 45, 139, 248 
Admirable Crichton, The, 299 
Adventures of Harlequin and Scara- 

mouche, The, 54 

Allen, Frederick Lewis, quoted, 333 
Alsop, George, quoted, 26 
Amateur photography, 202, 343 
Amateur Softball Association of 

America, 360 
Amateur theatricals, 49, 62, 304, 

American Company of Comedians, 

The, 54, 57, 62-66 passim 
American Jockey Club, 240 
American League, 224-25 
American Maid, horse, 280 
American Museum, 122-25, 135, 219 
America's Cup Races, 240, 356 
Ames, Nathaniel, quoted, 26, 49 
Amherst, Sir Jeffrey, and colonial 

balls, 53 
Amusement industry (see also Costs 

of recreation, Moving pictures, 

Radio, Theatre), 368-70 
Amusement parks, 98, 163-64, 166, 

222-23, 305 

Anderson, Mary, actress, 237 
Andy Hardy Gets Spring Fever, 372 
Anglin, Margaret, actress, 237 


Angling. See fishing. 
Animal-baitings, 10, 43, 138 
Animal exhibits (see also Circus), 

39, 40, 131-32 
Annapolis, as colonial capital, 61, 


Anson, "Pop," baseball player, 226 
Archery, 182, 192, 202, 240, 362 
Argall, Governor, 8 
As You Like It, 237 
"Association" of 1774, 65 
Aston, Anthony, actor, 54 
Astor Place riot, 104 
Audubon, John J., quoted, 71, 77 
Austen, Jane, quoted, 185 
Automobile, the. See Motoring. 
Automobile racing, 287, 310, 355 
Aviation, 362 

Backgammon, 33, 36, 150 

Bacon, Nathaniel, and drinking 
laws, 18 

Badminton, 362 

Bailey, Hackaliah, and early menag- 
eries, 131-32 

Bailey, James A., circus owner, 282 

Ballet, 100, 116-17 

Balloon ascensions, 164-65 

Balls, colonial, see also Dancing, 48, 
52, 61; in Gilded Age, 231-34 

Bank nights, 302 

Barbecues (see also Picnicking), 77, 

Barlow, John, professional runner, 

Barn raisings, 26, 43 



Barnard, Charles, playwright, 236 

Barnard, Henry, on southern life, 

Barnum, Phineas T., early days as 
showman, 122-27, 213; enters 
circus business, 134-35; experi- 
ment with Wild West show, 138- 
39; as circus king, 282-84 

Barrett, Lawrence, actor, 236, 237 

Banymores, the, 237 

Baseball, origins and early develop- 
ment, 185-91; professional game 
in 1890's, 223-26, 240; as amateur 
sport in 1890's, 263-64; as pro- 
fessional game in twentieth cen- 
tury, 352-53 

Baseball clubs, 186-88 passim, 190 

Basketball, 264, 355 

Bat-and-ball (see also Baseball), 33, 

Bathing, in mid-nineteenth century, 
152-53; in 1890's, 202; as modern 
sport, 363 

Bathing-beauty contests, 333 

Battledore and shuttlecock (see also 
Badminton), 52 

Bear-baiting, 10 

Beard, Charles and Mary, quoted, 
306, 307 

Beau Geste, 298 

Beaux' Stratagem, The, 57 

Becky Sharp, 236 

Bedford Springs, early summer re- 
sort, 151 

Beecher, Henry Ward, on public en- 
tertainment, 89 

Beer-gardens, 98, 220, 371 

Beggars Opera, The, 57 

Belasco, David, producer, 237 

Ben Hur, 298 

Bennett, James Gordon, on P. T. 
Barnum, 123 

Bennett, James Gordon, Jr., takes 
up sports, 239 

Bendey, William, quoted, 33, 40 

Berkshire Agricultural Society, 279 

Bernard, John, on bundling, 28; on 
shooting contests, 72; as theatri- 
cal manager, 102 
Bernhardt, Sarah, actress, 237 
Beverly, Robert, quoted, 26 
Bicycling, early development, 194- 

96; in the 1890's, 265-67 
Billiards, 36, 44, 150, 156, 220 
Billings, Josh, quoted, 279 
Bingo, 302, 333, 342-43 
Birth of a Nation, The, 296, 297 
Black Crook, The, 117, 261 
Blouet, Paul, quoted, 203 
Blue laws, 5-6, 18-19, 20, 342 
Boating (see also Motor-boating, 

Regattas, Rowing), 58, 75 
Book of Sports, King James I's, 10 
Booth, Edwin, 109, 172, 173, 236 
Booth, Junius Brutus, actor, 100, 

109, 110, 112, 120-21, 173 
Boston, social life during colonial 

period, 46-49 
Boston Museum Theatre, 112, 113, 


Boston Symphony, 238 
Boston Theatre, 234 
Bowery Theatre (New York), 103, 

105, 213-14; in 1890's, 214 
Bowling, as colonial sport, 6, 10, 
33, 36, 58; in middle of nine- 
teenth century, 150, 156; in 
1890's, 220; as modem sport, 356 
Boxing. See Prize-fighting, 
Bradford, William, quoted, 4, 13 
Bridge, card game, 340-42 
Brittan, Belle, quoted, 134 
Broadway Theatre (New York), 103 
Brodie, Steve, as actor, 215-16 
Brougham's Lyceum (New York), 


Broun, Heywood, 337 
Brown, Henry Collins, quoted, 234 
Bryce, Viscount James, quoted, 203, 


Buckingham, James Silk, quoted, 
102, 150 



Buckingstone, John Baldwin, play- 
wright, 113 

Buffalo Bill. See William F. Cody, 

Bull, Ole, concert artist, 237 

Bull-baiting, 10 

Bundling, 28-29 

Bunny, John, moving-picture actor, 

Burgess, Neil, playwright, 236 

Burlesque, mid-nineteenth century 
origins of, 100, 117, 123; in 
1890's, 217; overshadowed by 
moving pictures, 371 

Burnaby, Andrew, quoted, 28, 51, 
58, 64 

Burns, Tommy, prize-fighter, 354 

Cagney, James, moving-picture ac- 
tor, 303 

Calkins, Ernest Elmo, on hobbies, 

Calve", Emma, concert artist, 237 

Calvinism (see also Puritanism), 5ff. 

Camitte, 236, 303 

Camp, Walter, football coach, 244, 

Camp-meetings, 80-83 

Camping, 202, 362 

Canoeing, 202, 362 

Cape May, summer resort, 149 

Captains Courageous, 303 

Card playing (see also Gambling), 
early prohibitions against, 5, 6, 8, 
19; during eighteenth century, 33, 
36, 44ff.; on frontier, 70; in mid- 
nineteenth century, 150, 158; in 
Far West, 176; in 1890's, 252; in 
twentieth century, 340-42 

Carnegie Foundation, report on 
football, 352 

Carnivals, 305 

Carpentier, Georges, prize-fighter, 

Carter, Charles, 37 

Carter, Colonel Robert, 58-59 

Carter, Mrs. Leslie, actress, 237 
Cartwright, Alexander J., baseball 
player, 186 

Cartwright, Peter, quoted, 82 

Castle, Irene and Vemon, dancers, 

Castle Garden Theatre (New York), 
127, 166 

Censorship, of moving pictures, 
290-91, 299-300, 305-306; radio, 

Chaplin, Charlie, moving - picture 
actor, 296, 298 

Charades, 158 

Charivari, 79 

Charleston, as colonial capital, 62, 

Charleston, the dance, 335 

Chasing-a-greased-pig, 30 

Chastellux, Marquis of, quoted, 35, 

Chatham Theatre (New York), 105 

Chautauqua, 258-60 

Chess, 84, 372 

Chestnut St. Theatre (Philadelphia), 
101, 105 

Chevalier, Michael, quoted, 85, 92- 
93, 151, 167 

Chicago Orchestra, 238 

Chinese checkers, 333 

"Chivalric tournaments," in pre-war 
South, 158, 162 

Christy's Minstrel Band, 129 

Church (see also Puritanism), gen- 
eral attitude toward amusements 
in colonial period, 5ff.; in 1840's, 
88-90; in 1890's, 204-209, 249; in 
1930's, 368 

Church entertainments, in small 

towns of the 1890's, 249-51 
Church meetings, in colonial days, 


Church socials, in 1890's, 206, 249- 
50; overshadowed by modern 
amusements, 305, 371 

'irooiron, 303 



Cincinnati, amusements described 
by Frances Trollope, 67 

Circus, origin and early develop- 
ment, 131-35; as rural diversion 
in 1890*s, 282-86; overshadowed 
by moving pictures, 305 

Cities (see also Urban amusements), 
influence on recreation o growth 
of, 84-85, 136-38, 204, 211-13 

Coaching, 182, 239, 241 

Coasting, 34 

Cock-fighting, in colonial New Eng- 
land, 33; in colonial South, 35, 
57, 58, 65; in middle colonies, 
50, 52; on frontier, 75; in mid- 
nineteenth century, 138, 159; in 
Far West, 172 

Cock-skailing, 14 

Cody, William F., as theatrical pro- 
ducer, 216-17 ' 

Cohan, George, actor, 218 

College sports (see also Football), 

Colonies, early bans on amusements 
in, 4ff.; sports of yeomanry of, 
26, 31-37; country dances in, 30, 
33, 37-39; social life of aristocracy 
of, 44-66; theatre in, 53-57, 62- 
63, 64-65 

Combe, George, quoted, 93 

Comic strips, 333 

Commencement exercises, colonial, 

Comstock, Anthony, attitude toward 
early movies, 290 

Concert-saloons, 98, 221 

Concerts, in colonial period, 49, 50, 
53; of Jenny Lind, 126-27; in 
1890's, 237-38; in 1930's, 372 
Coney Island, 164, 223 
Connecticut, colonial blue laws in, 


Conrad, Dr. Frank, initiates broad- 
casting, 321 
Contrast, The, 29, 56 
Conway, Russell H., lecturer, 257 j 

Cook, Ebenezer, his "Sot-Weed 
Factor" quoted, 30 

Cook, George Frederick, actor, 109, 

Corbett, James J., prize-fighter, 228, 
244, 354 

Costs of recreation, 301, 317, 345, 
348-49, 368-70 

Cotton, John, views on "mixed" 
dancing, 6 

Count of Monte Cristo, The, 236 

Country clubs, 241, 357 

Country fairs, in colonial period, 26, 
30; growth and expansion in 
nineteenth century, 279-82 

County Fair, The, 236 

Coup, William C., circus owner, 282 

Courtney, Charles E., professional 
sculler, 226 

Covered Wagon, The, 298 

Cowboys, amusements on the range, 
174-77; in town, 177-81 

Crabtree, Lotta, actress, 173 

Cricket, in colonial period, 33, 52; 
on frontier, 75; in Philadelphia, 
186; overshadowed by baseball, 

Crockett, David, on shooting con- 
tests, 72; on dancing, 76-77; tall 
tales of, 80 

Croqxiet, introduced to United 
States, 191-92; at summer re- 
sorts, 202; declining importance 
in 1890's, 264-65; modern revival, 

Crosby, Bing, radio singer, 372 

Cross-word puzzles, 333; book pub- 
lication of, 337-38 

Crowninshield, Captain David, im- 
ports first elephant, 40 

Culbertson, Ely, promotes bridge, 
341, 342 

Curling, 364 

Cushman, Charlotte, actress, 109, 

Cyrano de Bergerac, 236 



Dale, Sir Thomas, forbids colonists' 

bowling, 3, 4 
Daly, Augustin, theatrical producer, 


Daly's Theatre (New York), 234 
Damrosch, Walter, promotes orches- 
tral music, 238 

Dance-halls, beginnings of, 98; in 
mid-century, 165; in Far West, 
170-71, 179; in 1890's, 220, 221; 
modern, 335 
Dance marathons, 333 
Dancing (see also Balls, Dance- 
halls), Puritan disapproval of, 6, 
8, 14, 19; of colonial yeomanry, 
26, 30, 33, 37-39; of colonial 
aristocracy, 44, 45, 47-48, 52-53, 
57#.; on frontier, 76-78; at mid- 
century suinrner resorts, 151-52; 
by Negro slaves, 159; among 
southern yeomanry, 161-62; in 
Far West, 170-71, 179; in small 
towns of 1890's, 254; in rural 
areas, 275-77; during jazz age, 
333-36; in the late 1920's and 
1930's, 345-46 

Davenport, E. L., actor, 109 
Davenport, Fanny, actress, 236 
David Copperfield, 303 
Davidge, William, quoted, 100 
Davis, Bette, moving-picture actress, 

Davis, Dwight F., as tennis player, 


Davis, Elmer, quoted, 340 
Davis, Emerson, quoted, 91 
Davis, Owen, on melodramas, 215 
Davis Cup matches, 193, 356, 359 
Dead End, 306 

Dempsey, Jack, prize-fighter, 354 
Denton, Daniel, quoted, 34 
De Quille, Dan, quoted, 169 
Devol, George H., and Mississippi 

River gambling, 154-55 
Diabolo, 333 
Dice (see also Gambling), 6, 36 

Dickens, Charles, quoted, 87-88, 
93; entertained in New York, 148 
Dime museums, 220-21 
Dinwiddie, Governor, 62 
Disraeli, 303 

Dodge City, as cowboy capital, 180 
DoWs House, A 9 236 
Doubleday, Abner, and origin of 

baseball, 186 

Douglass, David, actor, 54, 64-65 
Drake, Samuel, actor, 102 
Dressier, Marie, actress, 262, 296 
Drew, Daniel, as circus man, 133 
Drew, John, actor, 237 
Drinking, as colonial diversion, 16, 
17, 26, 30, 36; on the frontier, 
67, 70; among working men, 90; 
at mid-century summer resorts, 
151; in Far West, 168, 170, 172, 
178; in small towns, 249; during 
Prohibition, 335 
Driving, of horses, 148, 158, 185, 

202, 269 

Drunkard, The, 113, 117, 123, 236 
Dunlap, William, theatrical pro- 
ducer, 106 

Dunton, John, quoted, 33 
Durant, Charles F., aeronaut, 165 
Duse, Eleanora, actress, 237 
Dwight, James, tennis player, 193 
Dwight, Timothy, quoted, 69, 84, 

East Lynne, 261 

Eclipse, horse, 140, 143 

Edison, Thomas A., invents kineto- 

scope, 288-89 

Egleston, Nathaniel, quoted, 271 
El Capitan, 237 
Election days, 26, 43 
Elliot, Charles W., as oarsman, 184 
Elssler, Fanny, actress, 116-17, 125 
Emerson, Ralph Waldo, quoted, 

183, 272 
Emmett, Dan, minstrel player, 128 



Endicott, Governor, at Merry 

Mount, 4 

Equestrian drama, 114-16, 123 
Erminie, 237 

Erwin, Captain Joseph, 141 
Everett, Edward, quoted, 183-84 

Fairbanks, Douglas, moving-picture 
actor, 298 

Falk, Sawyer, quoted, 306 

Fancy-work* women's, 47, 96 

Far West, amusements in mining 
towns, 169-72; theatres in, 172- 
74; on ranches, 174-78; in cow- 
towns, 178-81 

Farm festivals (see also Husking 
bees), 273 

Fashion, 113 

Fashion, horse, 140 

Faux, William, quoted, 70 

Federal St. Theatre (Boston), 106 

Federal Theatre Project, 304 

Fencing, 44, 364 

Field hockey, 362 

Fifth Avenue Theatre (New York), 

Figure skating, 364 

Fink, Mike, 72 

Firemen's carnivals, 256 

Firpo, Louis Angel, prize-fighter, 

Fisher, Clare, actress, 112 

Fishing, in colonial period, 24, 25, 
26; vogue in 1890's, 202; in rural 
areas, 273; as modern sport, 356 

Fisk, James, as circus man, 133 

Fiske, Minnie Maddern, actress, 

Fitch, Clyde, playwright, 237 

Fithian, Philip Vickers, on social 
Me of colonial Virginia, 58-60 

Fitzsimmons, Robert Prometheus, 
prize-fighter, 228, 354 

Fives, 52 

Flagg, Edmund, quoted, 134 

Flint, Timothy, quoted, 69, 149 

Flora, or Hob in the Well, 57 

Flora Temple, horse, 141 

Folk-dancing, 368 

Football, in the colonies, 33, 186; 
rise of intercollegiate game, 197- 
98; in the 1890's, 243-46; during 
the 1920's, 350-52; professional 
game, 355 

Foot-races. See Running. 

Ford, Henry, 313 

Forrest, Edwin, actor, 104, 109-13 
passim, 120 

Foster, Stephen C., and minstrel 
songs, 130 

Fourth of July, 166-67, 278-79 

Fox-hunting, 58, 60, 61, 241, 362 

Fox-trot, 334 

Franklin Theatre (New York), 119 

Fraternal orders, 254-56 

Frohman, Charles, theatrical pro- 
ducer, 237 

Frontier, amusements of, 67-83 

Gable, Clark, moving-picture actor, 

Gallant Fox, horse, 355 

Gambler of the West, The, 216 

Gambling (see also Card-playing, 
Lotteries, Slot machines), colonial 
laws against, 5; in eighteenth- 
century Boston, 48; in colonial 
south, 58; on frontier, 67; on 
Mississippi River boats, 154-55; 
in Far West, 168tf.; in 1930's, 
342-44 passim 

Game, The, 333 

Gander-pulling, 75, 160, 161 

Garbo, Greta, moving-picture actress, 

Gardening, 344 

Garfield, James A., quoted on 
leisure, 209, 365 

Garland, Hamlin, on life of Middle 
West, 273, 278, 281, 286 



General Federation of Women's 

Clubs, 257 
General Tom Thumb, 122, 124-25, 

135, 283 

Gibbons, Cardinal, quoted, 226 
Gilbert, John, moving-picture actor, 


Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, 237 
Gilded Age, social life during, 230- 


Gillette, William, actor, 236 
Gish, Lillian, moving-picture actress, 

295, 298 

Gladiator, The, 113 
Glidden, Charles J., 310 
Goelet, Captain Francis, quoted, 


Gold Rush, The, 298 
Goldsmith, horse, 280 
Golf, in colonial period, 52; intro- 
duced to United States, 242-43; 
during 1920's, 356-59 
Gone with the Wind, 303 
Good Earth, The, 307 
Goodman, Benny, band leader, 345 
Gospel of work, as affecting recrea- 
tion, 86-87, 203-204, 209, 365 
Grange, social activities of the, 274- 

78 passim, 305, 371 
Grange, "Red," football player, 351 
Great and Thursday, 7 
Great Migration, 7, 16 
Great Train Robbery, The, 294, 296 
Greeley, Horace, quoted, 164, 209; 

as lecturer, 173 

Green Mountain Boys, The, 113 
Greyhound-races, 333, 355 
Griffith, D. W., movie director, 296 
Gymnastics, 182, 364 

Hadkett, James H,, actor, 109 
Hagen, W. C., golf player, 357 
Hale, Dr. William Bayard, quoted, 

206, 250 
Hale, Rutih, 337 

Hall, Captain Basil, 97 

Hallams, theatrical company, 54, 62, 


Hamilton, Dr. Alexander, 63-64 
Hamlet, 53, 57, 100, 112, 172, 219, 


Handball, 363, 368 
Hanlan., Edward, professional sculler 


Harlow, Jean, moving-picture ac- 
tress, 303 

Harris, Charles K., 253 
Harris, John P., and nickelodeons, 

289, 308 

Harvard, colonial commencement at, 
31; and intercollegiate football, 
197, 198 

Hays, Will H., 299-300 
Hazel Kirk, 236 
Health, as factor in growth of 

sports, 183-85 
Heenan, John C., prize-fighter, 145- 


Held by the Enemy, 236 
Henry IV, 116 
Herndon, William, quoted, 75, 82- 


Herne, James A., playwright, 236 
Higginson, Thomas Wentworth, 

quoted, 183 

High Life below Stairs, 57, 113 
Hobbies, 344-45, 372 
Hockey, in colonial period, 34; as 

professional sport, 355 
Holbrook, Weare, quoted, 328 
Holiday travel. See Motoring, 
Steamboat excursions, Summer 

Holidays, colonial, 14; in mid-cen- 
tury, 162-67; in 1890's, 204; as 
compared with those of ancient 
world, 367 
Hollywood, 298$. 
Holmes, Oliver Wendell, quoted, 

136, 184 
Hone, Philip, quoted, on lectures, 



Hone, Philip continued 

92, 93; on ballet, 117; on theatre, 
120; on Tom Thumb, 124-25; on 
foot-races, 143; on prize-fighting, 
144; on Charles Dickens, 148; on 
opera, 238 

Hooley's Theatre (Chicago), 234 
Hoover, Herbert, broadcasts, 321 
Hopper, De Wolf, actor, 223 
Horse racing, in colonial period, 
30#,; 50#.; on frontier, 70, 72- 
73; in first half of nineteenth 
century, 139-41; in Far West, 171, 
174; in 1890's, 226, 240-41; in 
1920's, 355 

Horseback riding, 362 
Horseshoe pitching, 73, 363 
House-raisings (see also Farm festi- 
vals), 30 

Hunchback, The, 113 
Hundley, D. R., quoted, 160 
Hunter, Richard, actor, 53 
Hunting, in colonial period, 24-26, 
43; on frontier, 70-71; as southern 
field sport, 148, 159; in 1890's, 
202, 273; as modern sport, 356 
Husking-bees, in colonial period, 18, 
26-27, 30, 43; on frontier, 76; 
disappearance of, 183 
Hyde, William D., quoted, 205 
Hyer, Tom, prize-fighter, 145 

I Am a Fugitive from a Chain 

Gang, 306 
Ibsen, Henrik, 236 
Ice-boating, 364 
Idiot's Delight, 303 
Idleness (see also Leisure), colonial 

laws against, 5ff.; later disapproval 

of, 85-86; 203-204 
Industrial worker, attitude toward 

leisure in 1840's, 90; increased 

leisure of, in twentieth century, 

366-67; recreation provided for, 


Infares, 78 

Intercollegiate football. See Football. 

Irving, Henry, actor, 237 

Irving, Washington, describes co- 
lonial balls, 57; on the theatre, 

Irwin, May, moving-picture actress, 

Jack, Sam T., burlesque producer, 

Jackson, Andrew, and frontier sports, 
73, 75; and horse-racing, 139, 

Jackson, William, professional run- 
ner, 144 

James I, issues Book of Sports, 10, 

Jamestown, bowling at, 3, 4 

Jazz, 333, 334-37 

Jazz Singer, The, 301 

Jefferson, Joseph, actor, 110, 128- 
29, 261 

Jefferson, Thomas, and colonial 
amusements, 61-62 

Jeffries, James J., prize-fighter, 354 

Jenny Lind Theatre (San Fran- 
cisco), 173 

John Street Theatre (New York), 
54-56, 101 

Johnson, Jack, prize-fighter, 354 

Jolson, Al, moving-picture actor, 

Jones, Bobby, golf player, 358, 359 

Jones, Hugh, quoted, 35 

KDKA, broadcasting station, 321 
Kean, Edmund, actor, 62, 109, 110, 


Kean, Thomas, actor, 54 
Keene, Laura, actress, 173 
Keith, B, F., vaudeville producer, 

Kemble, Charles, actor, 109 



Kemble, Fanny, as actress, 109, 

121; quoted, 160, 163 
Kentucky Derby, 240 
Kinetoscope, 287, 289 
King Lear, 219 
Kline, Maggie, vaudeville actress, 


Knickerbocker Club, 240 
Knight, Madame Sarah, quoted, 29, 


Knox, John, 9 

Koster and Bid's Music Hall, 289 
Kreisler, Fritz, concert artist, 237 

Lacrosse, 364 

Lady of Lyons, The, 113, 236 

Lady Suffolk, horse, 141 

La Fille Hussar, 115 

Larned, William A., tennis player, 

Lasky, Jesse, moving-picture pro- 
ducer, 298 

Lawn tennis. See Tennis. 

Lawrence, Florence, moving-picture 
actress, 295 

League of American Wheelmen, or- 
ganized, 194-95; promotes bicy- 
cling, 196, 266, 267 

Leavitt, M. N., vaudeville producer, 

Lecture days, colonial, 7, 29 

Lectures, mid-century craze for, 92- 
95; of Chautauqua circuit, 257-60 

Leeds, Josiah W., quoted, 205 

Legion of Decency, 305 

Leigh, Vivien, moving-picture ac- 
tress, 303 

Leisure, as a modern problem, 209, 

Lenglen, Suzanne, tennis player, 359 

Life of Emile Zola, The, 307 

Lincoln, Abraham, and pioneer 
amusements, 73, 75, 79; and 
theatre, 107, 113; at minstrel 
show, 130 

Lind, Jenny, concert singer, 125-27, 
135, 237 

Living Models, 118-19 

Livingston, William, quoted, 53 

Lloyd, Harold, moving-picture actor, 

Lodge night (see also Fraternal 
orders), 254, 255-56, 305, 371 

Log-rollings (see also Farm festi- 
vals), 30, 76#. 

Lollards, 8-9 

Lomax, John A., on cowboy singing, 

London Assurance, 113 

Long Branch, summer resort, 149, 
152, 202 

Long Island, and colonial amuse- 
ments, 34-35, 52; race-courses on, 

Longstreet, Augustus Baldwin, 
quoted, 161 

Lotteries, 343 

Louis, Joe, prize-fighter, 355 

Lowell, Mass., recreation of mill 
workers o, 92-93 

Ludlow, Noah Miller, theatrical 
producer, 106, 108 

Lundberg, George A., quoted, 367- 

Lyceum Theatre (New York), 234 

Lyceums, 92 

Lyell, Sir Charles, quoted, 87; on 
lectures, 92; on steamboat excur- 
sions, 164 

Lynd, Robert S. and Helen M., on 
moving pictures, 306, 307 

Lytton, Lord, quoted, 228 

Macaulay, Lord, quoted, 9 
Macbeth, 100, 111, 173, 219 
Mackaye, Steele, playwright, 236 
Macraby, Alexander, quoted, 36, 51- 

Macready, William Charles, actor, 

104, 109 



Madison Square Theatre (New 

York), 234 

Magic-lantern shows (see also Mov- 
ing pictures), 42 
Mah-jong, 333, 337, 372 
Man o' War, horse, 355 
Mansfield, Richard, actor, 236, 237 
Mantell, Robert, actor, 237, 258 
March of Time, The, 306 
Marconi, Guglielmo, invents wire- 
less, 287, 320 
Margaret Fleming, 236 
Marlowe, Julia, actress, 237 
Marryat, Captain, quoted, 97 
Marshall, John, as quoits player, 73 
Martin, Bradley, ball of, 233 
Martin, Frederick Townsend, 

quoted, 233 

Mather, Cotton, on dancing, 14, 48; 
on drinking, 17, 20; as angler, 
Mather, Increase, on drinking, 17, 

18, 20 

Mathews, Charles, actor, 109 
Maud S., horse, 280 
Mazeppa, 115, 173 
McAllister, Ward, quoted, 232 
McClellan, Mayor, and moving pic- 
tures, 291 

McCullough, John, actor, 237 
McGinty, Joe, baseball player, 226 
McNamee, Graham, radio an- 
nouncer, 326 

McVicker's Theatre (Chicago), 234 
Melba, Mme, concert artist, 237 
Melodrama (see also Theatre), 
popularity in 1890*s, 215-17; in 
moving pictures, 303; over radio, 
Melville, Governor Robert, quoted, 

Menjou, Adolphe, moving-picture 

actor, 303 

Menken, Adah, actress, 173-74 
Merchant of Venice, The, 62 
Merry Mount, festivities at, 3-4 

Merz, Charles, quoted, 324, 337 

Metamora, 113 

Metropolitan Opera House, 238-39; 
broadcasts from, 325 

Militia musters (see also Training 
days), 256 

Milton, John, quoted, 9 

Miniature golf, 333, 339-40, 372 

Minstrel shows, introduced, 98, 122, 
128-29; popularity in mid-century, 
129-131; revived over radio, 327 

Mississippi Valley, amusements of, 

Mitchell's Olympic Theatre (New 
York), 104, 117 

Mix, Tom, moving-picture actor, 

Mock Doctor, The, 57 

Modjeska, Helena, actress, 237 

Monopoly (game), 333 

Montez, Lola, actress, 173 

Montgomery and Stone, vaudeville 
team, 218 

Morris, Clara, actress, 236 

Morris-dances, 7, 43 

Morrissey, John, prize-fighter, 145 

Morton, Thomas, at Merry Mount, 

Motion pictures. See Moving pic- 

Motion Picture Producers and Ex- 
hibitors of America, 299 

Motor-boating, 362 

Motorcycling, 364 

Motoring, in first days of the auto- 
mobile, 308-12; expansion after 
1914, 312-14; effect on social life, 
314-19, 371, 372; expenditures 
on, 369 

Mountain-climbing, 202, 362 

Moving pictures, development dur- 
ing nickelodeon era, 287-93; and 
censorship, 290-91, 299-300; early 
films, 293-95; expansion during 
1914-1928, 295-301; stars, 295, 
298, 303; advent of talkies, 301- 



Moving pictures continued 

303; social effects of, 303-307, 

Mowatt, Anna Cora, actress, 113 
Much Ado About Nothing, 112 
Muirhead, James F., on sports, 201 
Murat, Achille, quoted, 116, 151 
Murdock, James E., actor, 109 
Murray, Walter, actor, 54, 62 
Museums, popular (see also Dime 

museums), 122 

Music (see also Concerts, Opera, 
Radio, Singing), in colonial pe- 
riod, 44, 46, 59; in ante-bellum 
South, 158; of jazz age, 333-35; 
in 1930's, 345-46 
Music-halls, 221 

Nahant, summer resort, 149, 152 

Naismith, James A., invents basket- 
ball, 264 

Nassau Hall. See Princeton. 

Nathan, George Jean, quoted, 338- 

National Brotherhood of Baseball 
Players, 224 

National Horse Show, 241 

National Industrial Recovery Act, 

National League, 190, 224, 225 

National Parks, 316, 348 

Naval Cadet, The, 216 

New Deal, the, support of recrea- 
tion movement, 368 

New England, attitude toward 
amusements in colonial period of, 
4, 5-6, 12-13, 16$.; sports of yeo- 
manry of, 25, 26ff., 32-33; colonial 
social Me in, 44-50; theatre in, 
101, 102; trotting matches in, 141; 
interest in sports of, 183-84; as 
vacation land, 316 

New York, as colonial capital, 50- 
57; mid-century theatres of, 
103$.; and spectator sports, IQSff .; 

in 1890's, 212#.; society during 
Gilded Age, 231-32 

New York Philharmonic, 238 

New York Philharmonic-Symphony, 
325 v 

New York Symphony, 238 

Newport (Rhode Island), summer 
resort, in colonial period, 64; in 
mid-century, 149-53 passim; in 
1890's, 202, 241 

Niblo's Theatre (New York), 105, 
117, 119, 166 

Nicholson, Sir Francis, starts ath- 
letic games, 34 

Nickelodeon Theatre (McKeesport, 
Pa.), 289 

Nickelodeons. See Moving pictures. 

Nick of the Woods, 113 

Night clubs, 335, 345 

Nine-pins (see also Bowling), 6, 36 

Norris, Kathleen, quoted, 338 

Old Homestead, The, 261 
Olympic Games, 355, 356 
On the Bowery, 215-16 
O'Neill, Eugene, playwright, 304 
O'Neill, James, actor, 236 
Opera, grand, 100, 238-39 
Opera houses, 257-58 
Ordination balls, 37 
Orphan, The, 62 
Osbom, Chase S., quoted, 277 
Othello, 62, 65 
Ouimet, Francis, golfer, 357 
Out American Cousin, 113 
Outdoor movement, The, 202, 315, 

Paderewski, Ignace, concert artist, 


Page, Thomas Nelson, quoted, 157 
Panoramas, 124, 155-56 
Parades (see also Militia musters), 

163, 166 



Park Theatre (New York), first, 101, 
103; second, 103, 105, 106, 120, 

Parker, Elisha, 52 

Parlor-games^ in colonial period, 46; 
in 1890's, 249; modern, 338 

Parties. See Balls, Farm festivals, 
small town parties. 

Pastor, Tony, initiates refined vaude- 
ville, 218 

Patti, Adelina, concert artist, 237 

Peck's Bad Boy, 218 

Perils of Pauline, The, 296 

Petticoat Fever, 303 

Peverelly, Charles A., quoted, 189 

Peytona, horse, 140 

Philadelphia, as colonial capital, 50 

Phonograph, 252, 325 

Photography. See Amateur photog- 

Pickford, Mary, moving-picture ac- 
tress, 295, 297, 298 

Picnicking, in colonial period, 51; in 
ante-beUum South, 157, 162; in 
rural areas, 277-78 

Pinafore, 237 

Pinero, Sir Arthur Wing, 236 

Ping-pong, 333, 363 

Pitts, Zazu, moving-picture actress, 

Pittsburgh, horse racing in, 73 

Ptzarro, 108 

Pkcide, Henry, actor, 109 

Plays. See Theatre, and under in- 
dividual titles. 

Plimpton, James L., introduces 
roller-skating, 193 

Ploughboy, horse, 141 

Plymouth, first Thanksgiving at, 3; 
sports in, 13; drinking in, 17 

Poker, 154, 170, 176 

Polka, introduced, 151 

Polo, introduced, 240, 241; modern 
sport, 362 

Pool-rooms (see also Billiards), 371 

Popular songs. See Songs. 

Power, Tyrone, actor, 102 

Princeton, colonial commencement 
of, 31; and intercollegiate foot- 
ball, 197, 198 

Prisoner of Zenda, The, 236 

Prize contests, 333, 343 

Prize-fighting, early development, 
144-47; in Virginia City, 171 S 172; 
in the 1890*s, 226-28; as modern 
sport, 353-55 

Proctor, F. F., vaudeville producer, 

Professionalization of sports (see 
also Baseball, Prize-fighting, Run- 
ning, Spectator sports), 200-201, 

Punch and Judy shows, 164 

Puritanism (see also Sabbath ob- 
servance), repressive influence in 
colonial period, 4ff ., 12-13, 16, 
18-21, 66, 204, 365; attitude 
toward theatre, 6, 64-65, 101, 
205; origin of attitude toward 
amusements, 8-12; attitude as re- 
vealed in SewalTs diary, 13*15; 
modem influence of, 21, 365-66, 
370; revival of, in nineteenth cen- 
tury, 86 

Putnam, the Iron Son of '76, 115, 

Pygmalion, 303 

Pynchon, William, 48 

Quakers, 23 

Quarter-racing, 35, 72-73 
Quincy, Josiah, Jr,, quoted, 63 
Quoits, 6, 64, 73, 75 

Racing. See Horse racing. 

Racquets, 363 

Radio, invention of, 287; early de- 
velopment of, 320-21; becomes 
popular fad, 321-26; popular pro- 
grams of, 324, 327-28; effect on 



Radio continued 

phonograph, 325; economic im- 
portance of, 328-29; social effects 
of, 329-31, 370-72 

Ragtime, 333-34 

Recreational movement, in United 
States, 348-50, 368; foreign, 349- 

Recruiting Officer, The, 54 

Red Right Hand, The, 216 

Redpath Lyceum Bureau, 260 

Regattas (see also Rowing, Yacht- 
ing), in mid-nineteenth century, 
141-43, 147, 166; in 1890's, 240 

Religion. See Church, Puritanism. 

Rice, Dan, circus clown, 134 

Rice, John C., moving-picture actor, 

Rice, Thomas D., actor, 128-29 

Richard III, 57, 111, 116 

Richelieu, 112, 113 

Rickard, Tex, prize-fight promoter, 
353, 354 

Rifle shooting, 171, 364 

Ripley, Eliza, quoted, 151 

Road companies (see also Theatre), 

Robin Hood, 237 

Rockne, Knute, football coach, 351 

Rod and gun clubs, 269 

Rogers, Will, as moving-picture 
actor, 303 

Roller-skating, first introduced, 182, 
193-94; waning interest in, 265 

Romeo and Juliet, 112, 236 

Rooney, Mickey, moving - picture 
actor, 303 

Roonoy, Pat, vaudeville actor, 218 

Roosevelt, Theodore, and intercol- 
legiate football, 351 

Rothafel, Samuel L. (Roxy), mov- 
ing-picture promoter and theatre 
manager, 297 

Rough-and-tumble fighting, 73-75 

Rounders, 185-86 

Rousiers, Paul de, quoted, 203 

Rowe, John, as angler, 25; on danc- 
ing, 48 

Rowing (see also Boating, Regattas), 
141-43, 184, 226 

Roxy's Theatre (New York), 297 

Rugby, 197 

Running (see also Track and field 
events ) , in colonial period, 26, 34; 
as frontier sport, 73, 75; by pro- 
fessionals in early nineteenth cen- 
tury, 143-44; on western ranches, 

Rural amusements. See Circus, 
Country fairs, Farm festivals, 
Frontier, Grange, Husking bees. 

Russell, Lillian, actress, 218 

Russell Brothers, vaudeville team, 

Rutgers, and intercollegiate football, 

Ruth, Babe, baseball player, 353, 

Sabbath observance, in colonial 
period, 5, 7-8, 19, 33; as decreed 
by King James, 10-12; on fron- 
tier, 70; in mid-nineteenth cen- 
tury, 90-91; decline of, 207-209, 
266, 315-16, 358 

Sailing. See Regattas. 

St. Andrews Club, 242 

Salvator, horse, 226 

Salvini, Tommaso, actor, 237 

San Francisco, theatre in, 172, 173; 
roller-skating in, 194; society in, 

Saratoga, summer resort, 149-52 
passim, 202 

SarnofF, David, foresees broadcast- 
ing, 320 

Sass, Herbert Ravenel, on diversions 
of ante-bellum South, 158 

Sayers, Tom, prize-fighter, 145 

Schumann-Heink, Mme., concert 
artist, 238 



Scouts of the Plains, The, 216 

Sculling. See Rowing. 

Sears, R. D., tennis player, 193 

Seccombe, Joseph, quoted, 25 

Secret Service, 236 

Sennett, Mack, moving-picture actor, 

Sewall, Samuel, quotations from 
diary of, 13-15, 25, 39, 40; at- 
tends Boston training day, 29 

Sharp, John, on cock-fighting, 25 

Shakespearean drama (see also un- 
der individual plays), popularity 
in colonial period, 57, 62-63, 65; 
in nineteenth-century theatres, 
110-12, 116; in Far West, 172, 
173; at popular theatres of 1890's, 
219; on legitimate stage, 236-37; 
in early movies, 294 

Shaw, Bernard, playwright, 236 

She Stoops to Conquer, 57 

Shenandoah, 236 

Sherlock Holmes, 236 

Shooting galleries, 220, 223 

Shooting matches, in colonial period, 
26, 29, 36-37, 43, 52; on fron- 
tier, 71-72; in ante-bellum South, 

Shore Acres, 236 

Show-boats, 153-54 

Shuffle-board, in colonial period, 6, 
36; as modern sport, 363 

Simpson, Edmund, theatrical pro- 
ducer, 107 

Singing (see also Songs), in colonial 
period, 15, 26, 30, 46; on western 
prairies, 175-76; in small town of 
1890's, 252-54 

Sinners in Silk, 299, 371 

Sir Henry, horse, 140, 143 

Six-day bicycle races, 355 

Skating, in colonial New York, 34; 
in mid-nineteenth century, 96-97, 
184; in 1890's, 269: as modern 
sport, 364 

Skeet, 356 

Skiing, 360-62 

Skinner, Otis, actor, 237 

Slaves, amusements of, 158-60 

Sleighing, 33, 51, 148, 269 

Slot machines, 343-44 

Small town parties, in colonial days, 
45-46; in 1890's, 251-52 

Smedes, Susan Dabney, quoted, 
158, 161 

Smith, Sol, theatrical producer, 108 

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, 

Soccer, 364 

Social clubs (see also Fraternal or- 
ders, Women's clubs), in colonial 
period, 63-64 

Society, in colonies, 44-66; at mid- 
nineteenth-century summer resorts, 
148-52; sponsors sports, 184-85, 
187, 192, 239-42, 362; in 1890's, 
230-34; takes up motoring, 309#. 

Softball, 356, 360 

Songs, minstrel, 130; cowboy, 175- 
76; * old favorites," 252-54, 276- 
77; circus, 285; popular, 324, 335 

Sothern, E. H., actor, 236 

Sousa, John Philip, introduces two- 
step, 254 

South, the, sports in colonial period, 
24, 26, 30, 35; social life of co- 
lonial aristocracy, 57-63; theatres 
in, 62-63, 102; amusements of 
ante-bellum days, 156-62 

Spangenberg, Lester, pioneer broad- 
caster, 320 

Spaulding, A. G., on world baseball 
tour, 226 

Speakeasies, 335 

Spectator sports (see also Baseball, 
Intercollegiate football, Prize-fight- 
ing), as developed in early nine- 
teenth century, 98, 136-47; in 
1890's, 200-202, 223-28; in twen- 
tieth century, 347, 350-56 
Spectre Bridegroom, The, 107 

Spencer, Herbert, quoted, 209 



Sports (see also individual sports, 
Spectator sports), in colonial 
period, 26, 31-37, 43; on frontier, 
71-75; beginning of organization 
of, 182-99; in 1890's, 263-69; 
modern, J347-64, 371 

Sports section of newspaper, 198, 
201, 347 

Squash, 362 

Squaw Man, The, 298 

Stannard, Henry, professional run- 
ner, 144 

Steamboat excursions, 164, 222 

Stevens, Thomas, professional bicy- 
cler, 195 

Stock companies (see also Theatre), 
103, 213, 304 

Stoole-ball, 13 

Story of Pasteur, The, 307 

Stoughton, William, quoted, 12 

Stuart, James, quoted, 97, 152 

Sullivan, John L., prize-fighter, 227- 
28, 354 

Sullivan, Mark, quoted, 277, 335 

Sullivan, Yankee, prize-fighter, 145 

Summer resorts, colonial, 64-65, in 
mid-nineteenth century, 148-53; in 
1890's, 202 

Swanson, Gloria, moving-picture ac- 
tress, 298 

Swimming (see also Bathing), 33, 
52, 363 

Swing, 345-46 

Table tennis (see also Ping-pong), 

Tacona, horse, 141 

Talkies. See Moving pictures. 

Tall tales, 79-80 

Talmadge, Constance, moving-pic- 
ture actress, 298 

Talmadge, Norma, moving-picture 
actress, 295 

Tancred and Sigismunda, 49 

Tarkington, Booth, quoted, 265 

Tavern-sports, banned in early New 
England, 6; during eighteenth cen- 
tury, 19, 36-37 

Taverns, colonial, 16-17, 36$. 
Taxi dance-halls, 335 
Taylor, Bayard, writes Jenny Lind 

prize song, 126 
Television, 329 

Temple, Shirley, moving-picture ac- 
tress, 303 
Ten Commandments, The, 298 

Tennis, in colonial period, 52; lawn 
game introduced, 182, 192-93; 
taken up by women, 192-93, 359; 
in 1890's, 202, 240, 265; profes- 
sionalized, 355; as modern sport, 
356, 359 

Tenny, horse, 226 

Thackeray, William Makepeace, 153 

Theatre, suppressed in New Eng- 
land, 6, 14, 48-49; introduced to 
America, 53-54; in colonial New 
York, 54-57; in colonial Soutii, 62- 
63; in Newport, Rhode Island, 64- 
65; church attacks on, 89, 204- 
205; development during early 
nineteenth century, 100-21; de- 
scription of playhouses, 103, 104- 
107, 214, 234; in West, 107-108, 
172-74; actors in, 109-10, 236- 
37; popular plays, 112-14, 215-16, 
236; popular houses of 1890's, 
213-16, 219; legitimate stage of 
1890's, 234-37; road companies in 
1890's, 260-63; overshadowed by 
movies, 304 

Theatre Guild, 304 

Theatres. See individual playhouses, 

They Wont Forget, 306 

Thief of Bagdad, The, 298 

Thomas, Augustus, theatrical pro- 
ducer, 237 

Thomas, Theodore, promotes orches- 
tral music, 238 

Thompson, Denman, actor, 261 

Three Musketeers, The, 298 



Tibbett, Lawrence, moving-picture 
actor, 303 

Tilden, William T., tennis player, 
356, 359 

TiEie's Punctured Romance, 296 

Tilyou, George C., develops Coney 
Island, 223 

Timour the Tartar, 115 

Toboganning, 364 

Tocqueville, Alexis de, quoted, 63, 

Tom shows (see also Uncle Tom's 
Cabin), 173, 258, 262-63 

Tosca, 236 

Totalitarian states, attitude toward 
recreation, 349-50, 373 

Tourist camps, 316 

Towle, George Makepeace, quoted, 
191-92, 231 

Town-ball, 185-86, 188 

Track and field events (see also 
Running), 182, 269, 355 

Trailers, automobile, 316-17 

Training days (see also Militia mus- 
ters), colonial, 26, 29, 30, 43 

Trap-shooting, 356 

Travel (see also Motoring), pleasure, 
in mid-nineteenth century, 148-49; 
costs of, 369 

Traveling shows (see also Circus, 
Carnivals), in colonial period, 39- 
42; as forerunners of circus, 132- 
33; in Mississippi Valley, 155-56; 
in South, 161 

Travis, Jerome D., golf player, 357 

Treasure hunts, 333 

Trolley excursions, 221-22 

Trollope, Frances, quoted, on amuse- 
ments, 67, 87; on American pru- 
dery, 98; on the theatre, 105 

Trotting races, in mid-century, 141, 
147; as amateur sport, 147, 269; 
in 1890's, 226; as feature of coun- 
try fair, 279-8,0 
Truxton, horse, 141 
Tunney, Gene, prize-fighter, 354-55 

Twain, Mark, on rough-and-tumble 
fighting, 73-74; on Virginia City, 
169-70; on baseball, 191 

Twin Rivals, The, 56 

Two Orphans, The, 261 

Two-step, introduced, 254 

Tyler, Royall, playwright, 29, 56 

Uncle Tom's Cabin (see also Tom 

shows), 114, 117, 123 
Union Square Theatre (New York), 


United States Golf Association, 242 
Urban amusements. See Dance halls, 

Minstrel shows, Moving pictures', 

Society, Spectator sports, Theatre, 


Vacation travel. See Travel. 

Vacations (see also Holidays), in 
1890's, 204; in twentieth century, 
316, 366 

Valentino, Rudolph, 298 

Vanderbilt, Mrs. William K,, in New 
York society, 231 

Variety shows, in early nineteenth 
century, 98, 119-20; as forerunners 
of vaudeville, 217-18; on the ra- 
dio, 326 

Vaudeville, in mid-nineteenth cen- 
tury, 119; development of modern 
forms of, 218-19 

Veblen, Thorstein, on recreation and 
display of wealth, 230 

Venice Preserved, 57 

Village Gossip, 112 

Virginia, early attitude toward 
amusements, 5, 8; colonial fairs in, 
30; horse racing in> 34; Marquis 
of Chastellux on inhabitants of, 
35; colonial life in, 58ff. 

Virginia City, Nevada, description of 
Me in, 169-72, 231; theatre in, 



Vitascope, 289 
Volley-ball, 364 

Wagner, Honus, baseball player, 226 
Wallack, James L., theatrical man- 
ager, 236 

Wallack's Theatre (New York), 234 
Waltz, introduced, 151 
Ward, Artemus, as lecturer, 173 
Ward, Samuel Dexter, quoted, 164 
Warren, William, Jr., actor, 109 
Washbura, Leonard Dana, quoted, 


Washington, George, interest in field 
sports, 60; in dancing, 61; in the- 
atre, 62 

Watkins, Harry, actor, 109, 114 
Watson, Elkanah, organizes agricul- 
tural societies, 279 
Weber and Fields, vaudeville team, 


Weddings, on frontier, 78-79 
Whist, in colonial Boston, 48; in 
1890 7 s, 252; superseded by bridge, 

White, Pearl, actress, 261, 296 
White, William Allen, quoted, 248, 


White Slave, The, 216 
White Sulphur Springs, 149, 150 
Whiteman, Paul, on jazz, 334 
Whitman, Walt, quoted, on theatre, 

120; on outdoors, 348 
Whitney, Caspar, quoted, 185, 245 
Whittier, John Greenleaf , 227 
Wildo, Oscar, playwright, 236 
Willard, Jess, prize-fighter, 354 
Williamsburg, colonial capital, 61-2 
Wills, Helen, tennis player, 359 
Wilson, Woodrow, on automobiling, 


Winslow, Edward, on first Thanks- 
giving, 3 

Winthrop, John, quoted, on lecture 
days, 7; on drinking, 17 

Wise, John, aeronaut, 165 
Wizard of the Nile, The, 237 
WJZ, broadcasting station, 322, 323 
Women, at colonial fairs, 30; in co- 
lonial Boston, 46-47; in colonial 
Virginia, 59; social recreations in 
early nineteenth century, 95-98, 
151; at theatre, 104#. ocean bath- 
ing, 152, 201-202, 363; first take 
up sports, 191-93, 200; playing 
tennis, 192-93, 359; bicycling, 
195-96, 266-67; playing golf, 358; 
playing softball, 360; modern r61e 
in sports, 363 

Women's Clubs, 256-57 

Wood, William, quoted, 7 

Woodruff, Hiram, sulky driver, 141 

World Series, inaugurated, 225; at- 
tendance at, 353 

Works Progress Administration, ex- 
penditures on recreational facili- 
ties, 348-49, 368 

Wrenn, Robert D., tennis player, 193 

Wrestling, in colonial period, 26, 34; 
on frontier, 73; in Virginia City, 
171; as modern sport, 355 

Wright, Frances, quoted, 95 

Wright, Henry, baseball player, 187- 

Wuthering Heights, 371 

Wycliffe, John, attitude toward 
amusements, 8 

Yachting, in early nineteenth cen- 
tury, 142-43, 148; in 1890's, 239, 
240; as modern sport, 362 

Yale, colonial commencement at, 31; 
and origins of football, 197, 198 

Young Men's Christian Association, 

"Young Mrs. Winthrop, 236 

Ysaye, Eugene, concert artist, 237 

Zedwitz, Herman, musician, 53